to take on his bogeyman
10/31/2000 Stuttgart, Germany
paper Marat Safin has all the qualities to be a strong indoor
player. He has a big serve, is quick around the court and returns
well. The No. 1 seed at Stuttgart will be looking to strengthen
his position in the ATP Champions Race and finish the year on
His first round opponent, Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, incredibly,
has defeated him in all five of their encounters, the last being
at the Sydney Olympics, and three times in all this year. Safin
once said about Santoro: "Being told I am having to play Santoro
is like being told I am going to die." He survived the matches,
but never left the court victorious so far. However, the Russian
is certainly not one to be intimidated by anything. The confidence
of winning the US Open and defeating Pete Sampras would have
made sure of that.
Santoro has had a reasonably good year, notching up a string
of respectable results at most of the tournaments he has played
in. His most notable success was Doha, where he defeated Rainer
Schuttler in the final, a success that made him the first ATP
Champions Race leader.
In Stuttgart he has already had a good first round victory against
Goran Ivanisevic, a wild card at Stuttgart, but also a 1992
winner and 1994 runner-up.
This will be Safin's first match in Stuttgart and not one the
No. 1 seed will be happy to be having to play in his opening
match. The Russian will certainly have had little time to get
into his stride and the match will be a good test of his mental
Both these two recently played Moscow, Santoro went out in the
first round and Safin reached the semifinal before going out
to David Prinosil.
Santoro will be able to go into this match not only as the relaxed
underdog, but also with the added confidence of having defeated
his opponent in their five encounters. Safin will be put to
the test here. All the worlds tennis eyes are watching to see
if he will be the first 21 century's tennis legend. Noone can
question his ability as a player and athlete, this will be however
a test of whether he has the mental ability.