Marat Safin, the second seed, suffered a Wimbledon exit today.
The Russian was overcome by Belgian's Olivier Rochus who proved
winning on grass is more than having a big serve in a match
that became a Little and Large battle.
While Safin produced 21 aces, Rochus managed none as he went
through into the third round with a 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 victory.
Yet Rochus, who defeated elder brother Christophe in the previous
round, was fortunate to find the 2000 US Open champion in erratic
form. Errors littered Safin's game as Rochus romped to a two
The Monte Carlo-based Muscovite insisted before The Championships
that grass was a difficult surface for him. Unintentionally,
he went out and proved it.
The body language of 6ft 4in Safin gave away the frustration
he was feeling inside as he littered his game with mistakes.
He finished with 37 unforced errors in a Centre Court showdown
against an opponent 11 inches shorter in height but bigger on
Safin reached the quarter-finals last year, but he only showed
flashes of the form that got him there. His best tennis came
in the third set in which he broke Rochus, world-ranked 64,
for a 5-3 lead before closing the gap with a love service game.
He managed to force the fourth set into a tie-break but any
hopes he had that he might pull the match out of the fire were
put out in a one-sided tie-break, taken 7-1 by Rochus. He double
faulted on the opening point to give Rochus a mini break. At
4-1 he took out his anger on the ball.
It was all over bar the shouting and Safin was silenced when
Rochus took the match by forcing an error from the Russian.