6th of August 2000 ,Tennis Masters Series, Toronto, Canada

TORONTO, Aug 6 2000

Russian Marat Safin cruised to a 6-2 6-3 victory over qualifier Harel Levy of Israel to win the Masters Series in Toronto on Sunday and collect his third title of the year. Marat, who won in Barcelona and Mallorca in the spring, clinched his first win in a Masters Series tournament, earning $400,000 and lifting him from eighth to fourth in the Champions Race.

Light rain delayed the start and interrupted the match after three games, although the stoppages were short and the players remained on court. Levy, the first Israeli to reach an ATP Tour final since Amos Mansdorf in Tel Aviv in 1994, played aggressively and offered a determined challenge, but committed far too many unforced errors to offer a serious threat.

As a result, the eighth seeded Russian was in control for most of the match, only stuttering in the first and final games. Safin, who saved three match points against Pete Sampras in the quarter-finals, allowed the energetic Levy to break his serve in the opening game, but then conceded just four points in his next seven service games.

It was only when serving for the match that he almost let Levy back, but he recovered from 0-40 to win the title in just 54 minutes. "I have more experience than him," said Safin, explaining the ease of his victory. "He got a little bit nervous and didn't know what to do or where to go. It was nothing else, because he can play unbelievable tennis. But in the final it's a little bit tough. I can understand him. "Of course my serve gave me confidence because it makes the game much easier, but I knew how to play him. It wasn't only (a question of) the serve. I could play without, but sometimes you need it to keep him under pressure."

Levy, who reached the final without facing a seeded opponent, was unable to find a winning format against the powerful Russian. "I tried to change my game a couple of times during the match and maybe come in behind my serve, but he had an answer to everything," said Levy.

"He's a very strong player and he hits the ball very hard, and he's difficult to play, especially when he has a high percentage of first serves. When a first serve goes in at 200 kilometres an hour (124 mph) he's going to be in control of the point." Safin faces a qualifier in next week's Master Series tournament in Cincinnati, and is in the same quarter of the draw as Sampras. Andre Agassi is the top seed, and he faces a stiff challenge from Toronto semi-finalist Wayne Ferreira.

courtesy EUROSPORT