Safin wins St. Petersburg Open
November 12, 2000 ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP)
Marat Safin, again venting his temper on the court, smashed
his racket and injured his hand Sunday but beat Dominik Hrbaty
to win the $800,000 St. Petersburg Open.
The top-seeded Russian recovered from a listless first set to
win 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 for his first pro title in his home country.
Safin has won six tournaments this season.
Safin, the U.S. Open champ, has overtaken Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten
for the No. 1 spot in the Champions Race. Kuerten lost on Friday
in the quarterfinals of the Lyon Grand Prix in France.
There was nothing listless about Safin in the second set. Down
40-15 in the first game, he banged his racket on the court,
drawing a warning from the umpire.
A splinter from the racket apparently lodged in his hand, prompting
a three-minute injury timeout. Safin apologized to Hrbaty for
``I was just nervous and angry,'' said Safin, who has a penchant
for smashing rackets. ``But breaking rackets sometimes helps
to get rid of negative energy. It helps you calm down.''
The outburst seemed to help. Safin was broken in the fourth
game of the second set but then took control, breaking back
and winning the sixth game at love. He broke the third-seeded
Slovakian again in the seventh and held serve to win the set.
``In the second set, he seemed to relax and got me out of rhythm
with his shots,'' Hrbaty said. ``He started hitting the ball
so hard that I lost my timing. I just couldn't keep the ball
in front of me.''
Safin kept to the baseline in the third set. He broke Hrbaty
in the third game, then comfortably served out the match. He
had 14 aces to Hrbaty's five.