"New Balls Please"
ATP Calendar 2001
NEW BALLS POSTER
Marat Safin have pulled out of this year's Championships
with injuries earlier today.
Marat Safin pulled out of the year's second Grand
Slam tournament on Monday. Safin withdrew with wrist
injurie. Safin told tournament organizers that it would
be at least three weeks until he was able to play again.
Safin withdrew before his scheduled third-round match
at the Australian Open earlier in the year. But he has
played 14 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating
back to the US Open in 1999 and 19 of 20 consecutive
Grand Slams since joining the ATP circuit.
Safin reached the final of Barcelona last month but
has not played since losing in the first round of Valencia
three weeks ago.
Injuries to Marat Safin and Mikhail Youzhny have
forced Russia to pull out of next week's ATP World Team
Championship in Dusseldorf, Germany.
"We had to withdraw from the world team championship
because both Safin and Youzhny are nursing injuries,"
Russia's tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev told Reuters
on Thursday. "That leaves us with Yevgeny Kafelnikov
and Nikolay Davydenko, but they don't have enough ranking
points to qualify us for the event."
The week-long tournament in Dusseldorf involves the
world's top eight tennis nations based on their players'
Tarpishchev said Youzhny, who lost to Argentine Guillermo
Coria in the third round of the Masters Series tournament
in Hamburg on Thursday, had aggravated a wrist injury.
Safin, who was forced to miss the Hamburg tournament
as well as last week's Rome Masters, is suffering from
a nagging wrist injury and also has a problem with his
"Safin's injury is more serious," Tarpishchev
said, adding that the 2000 U.S. Open champion might
even have to pull out of the French Open, which starts
later this month.
Safin and Youzhny led Russia to their first Davis Cup
title with a dramatic 3-2 victory over holders France
in the Paris final last December. Russia also finished
second in last year's World Team championship, losing
to Argentina in the final.
Safin, 23, has had a turbulent year so far, battling
with various injuries.
The Russian injured his left wrist at the Australian
Open in January, forcing him to withdraw from his third
round tie against German Rainer Schuettler.
Marat Safin pulled out of the Tennis Masters Hamburg
withdrew because of a wrist injury.
No. 6 seed Marat Safin pulled out of the Tennis
Masters Roma with a left wrist injury that re-occured
during his practice on Sunday with Andy Roddick. He
tried to practice on Monday, but couldn't. He's returned
to Moscow to go see his doctor.
Second-seeded Marat Safin was beaten in the first
round of the Valencia Open on Tuesday, two days after
the Russian retired in a tournament final because of
Marat Safin lost to Franco Squillari of Argentina 6-4,
Carlos Moya claimed his first title on home soil
Sunday as Russian star Marat Safin retired in the fourth
set of a one-sided Open Seat Godo final on the Spanish
Safin came into the final on the back of a magnificent
win over Juan Carlos Ferrero, and began strongly as
he eyed a first title in six months after struggling
with various injuries.
Following a tight start to the match the Russian claimed
the first break in the 11th game and and served out
But from that moment on home favourite Moya took control,
breaking in the first game of the second set before
After dropping the first three games of the fourth
set, Safin chose not to continue.
"I just couldn't carry on," said Safin. "I
came into this tournament after a month out with injury
and it was impossible."
Marat Safin of Russia beat top-seeded Juan Carlos
Ferrero of Spain 6-4, 6-3 Saturday to advance to the
final of the US$1.08 million Open Seat Godo.
Safin, who won the tournament in 2000, was unstoppable.
The match started evenly, with both players holding
serve until the 10th game, which Ferrero opened by serving
a double fault. He did the same thing at the end of
the game, handing the fourth-seeded Safin the first
Safin ran off five straight games in the second set.
Ferrero, who won the tournament in 2001, came back to
win three but Safin clinched it, ending the match with
his 12th ace.
Safin will play Carlos Moya, who defeated Agustin Calleri
of Argentina 7-6 (2), 6-2 earlier in the day on clay
at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona.
Moya said Safin would give him a tough match.
"When he's playing well, he can keep you from playing
your game. It should be an exciting match for the fans."
Marat Safin overcame two match-points against him
to oust defending champion Gaston Gaudio 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Safin, the 2000 Godo champion seeded No. 4, barely managed
to topple Gaudio in a grueling two-hour, 44-minute match.
Safin looked to be cruising to victory in the middle
of the second set, but a determined Gaudio fought his
way back. In the third set, Gaudio had two match points
at 5-4, but was unable to convert.
Fourth seed Marat Safin also advanced peacefully
after a solid straight set win, 6-3 6-3, over Finland's
Russia's Safin put to work his strong serve and thunderous
forehand to force Nieminen to run form one side of the
court to the other and wrap up the encounter in one
hour and 20 minutes of play.
After grasping the first set, a relaxed Safin let go
of his serve to go down 0-2 in the second. But his determination
pulled him through winning 5 consecutive games taking
Safin, who won the title in Barcelona in 2000, will
face defending champion Gaston Gaudio of Argentina.
"My game is to play quickly and get the pressure
on my opponents," said Safin, who is playing his
first event in a month after suffering an ankle injury.
"I have a system on court. If I lose that, I lose
everything. I need to keep motivated and aggressive."
Former U.S. Open champion Marat Safin returned
three weeks after an injury scare and defeated Spanish
qualifier Salvador Navarro, 7-5, 6-2, on Tuesday to
reach the third round of the $1.08 million Open Seat
The 23-year-old Russian, who received a first-round
bye as a top-eight seed, struggled in the first set
but found traction in the second to defeat a man who
beat him at a Challenger event six years ago.
The fourth seed, Safin learned his tennis in Spain
after being sent from Moscow as a teenager by his mother,
who also was his coach.
The brother of WTA Tour member Dinara Safina, Safin
won the Barcelona title in 2000, the same year he claimed
a Grand Slam trophy at Flushing Meadows with a win over
Safin has not played since the Tennis Masters Series
event in Miami, where he lost his opening match to Italian
Davide Sanguinetti. He injured his ankle in Argentina
before Russia's 5-0 Davis Cup loss three weeks ago.
Navarro broke Safin to even the first set at 5-5, but
Safin broke back, then saved four break points to win
the set. He took the momentum to the second set, winning
the first four games.
"The ankle is better," he said. "It's
been three weeks since I have played a match It's difficult
to come back. You are lacking in confidence and you
are scared to move around the court.
"When the match began, I was a little bit too
nervous. After the first set, I began to build up my
confidence and find my rhythm."
In doubles first round Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) /
Marat Safin (RUS) lost to duo Gaudio / Nalbandian 4-6,
Marat Safin will test himself against a trio of
clay-toughened Spanish fellow seeds when he returns
to action at the 1-million-euro Barcelona Open starting
The 23-year-old Russian has not set foot on the red
dirt this season and last competed at the hard-court
Miami Masters, where he lost in his opening match to
Italian Davide Sanguinetti after a first-round bye.
Safin fronted up for Russia's 5-0 Davis Cup hammering
this month in Buenos Aires but was unable to play due
Seeded fourth at the Real Club de Tenis, Safin begins
with a bye and then will face either Slovak Karol Beck
or a qualifier.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Former U.S. Open winner Marat Safin is withdrew
with an ankle injury from the $2.45 million Monte Carlo
Russia’s defence of the Davis Cup is over after
Argentia won the doubles rubber in the Davis Cup by
BNP Paribas quarterinal in Buenos Aires today.
After Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian’s 36 64 63 63
victory over Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Mikhail Youzhny,
achieved today in two hours 36 minutes, the Argentines
now hold an unassailable 3-0 lead and are through to
the semifinals. There they will face Spain, with Spain
holding the home advantage September 19-21, although
as both countries favour clay this may not be as much
of a decisive factor as it often can be in Davis Cup.
Defending champions Russia made a disastrous start
against Argentina as the home side raced to a 2-0 lead
in Buenos Aires.
Nicolay Davydenko crumbled to a 6-2 6-2 7-5 defeat
to David Nalbandian in the first match of the tie.
Senior Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov saw his bad run of
form continue as he crashed to a 6-4 6-0 6-2 defeat
at the hands of Gaston Gaudio.
Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev must now rely on
victory in the doubles rubber on Saturday if his team
are to have a hope of turning things around.
His gamble to select Davydenko over the higher-ranked
Mikhail Youzhny has already backfired.
But there is a slight chance Marat Safin could return
from injury to partner Kafelnikov in the vital doubles
Defending Davis Cup champion Russia finds itself
on the defensive before a single shot has been struck
in its quarterfinal tie with host Argentina. Former
No. 1 Marat Safin, who won two singles matches to help
Russia capture its first Davis Cup championship in history
with a 3-2 victory over France last December, said today
a twisted right ankle will prevent him from playing
singles in this weekend's tie.
Unheralded Nikolay Davydenko replaces Safin in the
starting singles lineup and will play Wimbledon finalist
David Nalbandian in tomorrow's opening match on the
red clay of the Club Atletico in Buenos Aires. Former
French Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov faces Argentina's
Gaston Gaudio in tomorrow's second singles match.
The eighth-ranked Safin sustained a twisted right ankle
during his second-round loss to Italian Davide Sanguinetti
at the Nasdaq-100 Open final on Key Biscayne two weeks
ago. He reinjured his ankle while training for the tie
earlier this week and while he plans to partner in Saturday's
doubles with Kafelnikov against Lucas Arnold and Nalbandian,
the 2000 U.S. Open champion has ruled himself out of
"The injury is now better but I'm not in good
shape and that's why I'm not playing," Safin said
during today's press conference to announce the draw.
"But, in any case, I'll do everything I can to
be in the team on the final day."
The 21-year-old Davydenko has only two Davis Cup matches
to his credit. Stepping in for Safin, who was out with
a wrist injury in Russia's 3-2 victory over the Czech
Republic in February's first-round tie, Davydenko lost
to Jiri Novak in his Davis Cup debut before beating
Radek Stepanek in his second match.
Sunday's reverse singles will feature Kafelnikov vs.
Nalbandian followed by Davydenko meeting Gaudio in the
final match of the tie. Both team captains have up until
10 minutes before the match to substitute singles starters
and up to an hour before the match to change their doubles
lineup. Even with a healthy Safin in the lineup, Russia
was not necessarily the favorite to win the tie. Without
Safin, Russia's chances of winning may be remote.
"We'll do everything possible to overcome these
inconveniences and win," Kafelnikov said.
From 04 April - 06 April 2003, Davis Cup World
Group - Quarterfinal, Russia - Argentina.
Club Atletico River Plate, Buenos Aires, Argentina
This is the third meeting (first meeting in 1985 between
ARG and RUS competing as USSR), between these two nations
in Davis Cup and so far Argentina has yet to emerge
victorious. The tie is also a rematch of last year's
semifinal in Moscow, in which the Russians established
a winning three rubbers to one lead before Argentina
claimed the final dead rubber. The highlight of the
tie, however, was the epic doubles rubber, won by the
Argentine pair of Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian
19-17 in the fifth set after six hours 20 minutes. It
was the longest match in Davis Cup since the introduction
of the tie break in 1989, yet Marat Safin and David
Nalbandian returned to the court the next day to contest
the fourth rubber, which Safin won to send Russia to
the final. That semifinal was played indoors on a medium-paced
carpet, so Argentina will be hoping to exact revenge
on its favoured clay courts at home this time around.
There may not be any rubbers as close as that doubles
in Moscow, but the tie looks finely balanced and could
turn out to be the clash of the quarterfinals.
Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
In a surgical display of dissection, spin doctor
Davide Sanguinetti picked apart Marat Safin in Miami.
The 30-year-old Italian scored a 7-6(9), 7-5 second-round
victory to send the seventh-seeded Safin out of the
The San Jose runner-up to Andre Agassi, Sanguinetti
calmly combated Safin's superior pace with slices and
spins from the baseline.
Safin, who reached the tournament quarterfinals last
year where he fell to Lleyton Hewitt, ultimately could
not find the answer to the Italian's array of short
angles and spins.
In doubles first round Nicolas Escude (FRA) / Marat
Safin (RUS) lost to Gaston Etlis (ARG) / Martin Rodriguez
(ARG) 6-7(7-9). 5-7.
Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
Marat Safin got smashed last night. In the shadow
of the Grandstand court, the seventh-seeded Safin was
engaged in a spirited practice session with Australian
Open finalist Rainer Schuettler at the Nasdaq-100 Open.
As a shirtless Schuettler launched strokes from behind
the baseline, a sweat-soaked Safin stook at the net
and blocked volleys back at the Indian Wells semifinalist.
After several sharp volleys, Safin suddenly smashed
a swinging forehand volley that blew by Schuettler before
he had a chance to react.
A sly smile crept across Safin's face as he nodded
to Schuettler than smiled at the crowd that had gathered
behind the fence to watch the practice and shoot photos
of the former U.S. Open champion.
Even when he's practicing, Safin can still draw a crowd.
Tonight, Safin's younger sister, Dinara Safina takes
the court against another crowd pleaser Internet Icon
Anna Kournikova in what shapes up as an interesting
match between a player with promising future in Safina
and a player who is trying to reclaim her once prominent
past in Kournikova.
Indian Wells, California, USA
Russian Marat Safin crashed out 6-0 6-1, after
Robby Ginepri swept him away in straight sets at the
Indian Wells Masters on Thursday.
Safin, the number seven seed, was still feeling the
effects of an virulent flu bug that forced a number
of players to pull out of matches on Wednesday.
"I didn't feel good," said Safin, who was
vomiting and had a fever on Tuesday night. "I didn't
have any energy and I couldn't concentrate. But you
have to play until the end no matter what."
Indian Wells, California, USA
Marat Safin lacked his usual power game Wednesday,
sapped by a stomach virus that is making its way through
the men's and women's field at the Pacific Life Open.
Safin was one of the lucky ones, however. The No. 7
seed managed to quell his nausea long enough to pull
out a 6-4, 6-3 second-round victory against Mark Philippoussis
at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Jiri Novak, the No. 9 seed, and women's doubles player
Paolo Suarez were not as lucky.
Both withdrew Wednesday, joining the three men who
pulled out Tuesday with the stomach virus.
Todd Martin and women's defending champion Daniela
Hantuchova complained of not feeling well before their
Tournament doctor Sam Reber said that since Monday,
at least 11 players have complained of symptoms "varying
"Some have been able to continue playing, and
some have had symptoms that have forced them to withdraw,"
The illness, Reber said, appears to be flu-related
and not food-related illness.
It is short-lived, he said.
"They have their symptoms that seem to disappear
within about 24 hours, and then they are left with a
weakness after that.
But (they) recover fairly quickly," he said.
Safin, who was up much of the previous night with nausea
and a fever.
He said that he thought it was food poisoning.
"I was actually very sick last night," he
"I took some antibiotics. I'm feeling like a little
bit weak, but I just try to stay focused and try to
finish, try to play a little faster, stay calm and try
to concentrate from the first point, just play my game.
"I was successful," Safin added.
Safin takes on Robby Ginepri in round three after the
American's second-round opponent Jiri Novak withdrew.
Men's Doubles 2nd Round
Mark Knowles (BAH) - Daniel Nestor (CAN) (1) defeted
Marat Safin (RUS) - Nenad Zimonjic (YUG) 6-3, 6-2.
Indian Wells, California, USA
Men's Doubles 1st Round
Marat Safin (RUS) - Nenad Zimonjic (YUG) defeated duo
Petr Pala (CZE) - Martin Rodriguez (ARG) 7-6(7), 6-1.
Indian Wells, California, USA
It started as choking and rapidly escalated into
sheer strangulation. A frustrated Marat Safin wrapped
his hands around the throat of his racquet in rage at
the rash of errors emanating from the racquet face.
A prolonged period of inept play saw Safin staring
down a 1-4 deficit in the final set of his first-round
match against Stefan Koubek at the Pacific Life Open
in Indian Wells today. Teetering on the edge of another
implosion, the seventh-seeded Safin seemed to be trying
to squeeze the life out of his racquet.
Instead, the towering Russian released his hold on
his racquet with an exasperated exhale. It was then
that Safin finally got a grip on his game and took control
of the match. Winning six of the final seven games,
Safin stormed back to win 12 straight points in his
final three service games and score a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
victory to advance to the second round.
The climb back from a deep deficit began with a Safin
slide. Skidding across the court like a skateboarder
shredding skin on a fall down a hill, Safin received
treatment for his left foot from trainer Doug Spreen
and used the break to mentally regroup.
Holding serve in the sixth in the game, Safin closed
to 3-4 when Koubek surrendered serve by firing two consecutive
forehands wide. A focused Safin held serve at love on
the strength of three aces and a service winner to even
the set at 4-4. Koubek was down 0-30 in the ensuing
game, but held for 5-4.
Strong serving saw Safin hold at love again with another
ace to level the set at 5-5. In the 11th game, Koubek
fought off a pair of break points at 15-40, but blasted
a backhand long to end one of the longest rallies of
the match and give Safin another break point. A loud
noise outside the stadium could be heard in the midst
of the rally, but play continued. Koubek unsuccessfully
argued the noise was a distraction and his concentration
seemed to crack as he hit a forehand long to drop serve
and hand Safin a 6-5 lead.
A confident Safin closed out the match at love to survive
the closely-contested match.
Russian Marat Safin has suffered a shock second
round defeat to Spain's Tommy Robredo at the Dubai Open,
losing 7-5 4-6 7-6 in a marathon lasting two hours and
Robredo, who had not won a match in his previous four
tournaments until his first round elimination of Sweden's
Jonas Bjorkman, broke the second seed's serve to take
the first set.
Safin levelled the match by breaking early in the second,
and the final set remained in the balance right to the
The Russian twice held break points to serve for victory,
at 4-4 and 5-5, and then twice had to serve to stay
in the match, at 4-5 and 5-6.
However, it was Robredo who proved the stronger player
in the tiebreak, winning through 7-3.
Tuesday at the Dubai Tennis Championships , Marat
Safin made it through his first round match. Safin won
decisively in one of the shorter matches of the day,
defeating Alexander Waske 6-4, 6-2 in just over an hour.
Safin:" It’s tough to play well. I was injured
for three weeks and I started to play last week in Rotterdam.
It’s really important to win titles at the beginning
of the year so I can have a lot of confidence and fight
for No. 1. People are already winning points and are
already maybe a little bit too far (away) for me, but
I hope I can get them. Winning titles and getting to
the top ten of the Race means I can fight for No. 1."
Former tennis journeyman Denis Golovanov has landed
one of the most unenviable jobs in the sport - to tame
his temperamental fellow Russian Marat Safin. Safin's
fragile temperament has come under the microscope in
the past as he often erupts when things are not going
according to plan - breaking rackets for fun.
It takes a strong willed person to stand up to Safin
and the world number seven believes Golovanov has the
ideal credentials to be his coach since he "knows
the way I think".
"You have to understand tennis but you also have
to understand the personality of the player," said
Safin, who overcame Belgium's Xavier Malisse 7-5 6-3
in the first round of the World Indoor Tournament on
Wednesday after being sidelined for a month with a wrist
"He knows me really well, we've known each other
for 11 years so he knows what kind of person I am and
what I need and what I want."
Safin has wasted little time in terminating the services
of the numerous coaches he has hired over the years.
In fact, the fiery Russian has worked with five different
coaches, including Switzerland's Marc Rosset, over the
past three seasons.
Having employed Golovanov after the Paris Masters last
year, Safin said: "It's usually difficult when
you hire a new coach as it takes two or three months
to get to know each other...and to see if you like each
other. You need a person to trust and I trust him."
Golovanov has certainly had his work cut out with his
new charge over the past six weeks.
Safin, who admits to being "not a very patient
person" has suffered both shoulder and wrist injuries
since the new season started, which have severely curtailed
his on court activities.
But after spending five years on the brutal lower tier
challenger circuit, the 23-year-old Golovanov is well
aware of the frustrations that go with the sport.
"I helped him (Golovanov) at the beginning of
his career with some money but he found it difficult
to travel on the tour by himself," said the 2000
U.S. Open champion.
"So I suggested why not come with me."
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Yevgeny Kafelnikov got the better of an all-Russian
duel, upsetting third seed Marat Safin 4-6, 7-6 (5),
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Marat Safin took his first steps back on the court
following a one-month injury layoff and came up victorious
in his test against talented Belgian Xavier Malisse
in the first round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament
in Rotterdam Wednesday. Safin had shoulder problems
forcing him to withdraw at the adidas International
in Sydney last month and then had to pull out of the
2003 Australian Open when he suffered a small tear in
his wrist ligaments. With both losses coming as a result
of withdrawal, Safin is technically undefeated on the
year at 5-0. Safin, who reached the semifinals in Rotterdam
in 1999, but has gone 1-3 the past three years, now
meets veteran countryman Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the second
Marat Safin: "It's frustrating when you want to
play but can't. I didn't touch a racket for three weeks
and when I started playing again last week, I still
felt some pain in my wrist."
"It's always difficult to play that first match
but it (the wrist) was okay today so hopefully I won't
have any more problems during the rest of the year."
"Everyone knows that I don't want to lose to him
(Kafelnikov) and he doesn't want to lose to me. It will
The all-Russian second round between the veteran, Yevgeny
Kafelnikov and the talent, Marat Safin. Early in his
pro career, Marat Safin was mentored at one point by
the older Russian, but today Safin carries the banner
as Russia's top male singles player. The two haven't
met this early in a tournament since they played in
the second round at the Telecom Italia Masters on clay,
when Kafelnikov emerged victorious. Since then they
have played in the spotlight in the final of the President's
Cup in Tashkent and the semifinal of the St.Petersburg
Open, with Safin winning both.
Ostrava, Czech Republic
Davis Cup holders Russia beat the Czech Republic
3-2 after Sunday's reverse singles in their world group
first round tie thanks to a brave performance by Nykolay
Davydenko, who beat Radek Stepanek 1-6 7-6 6-2 3-6 6-0.
Earlier, Jiri Novak beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who replaced
an ailing Mikhail Youzhny, 6-2 6-3 7-6.
New-York , USA (AP)
Defending Davis Cup champion Russia will be without
world No. 7 Marat Safin when it visits the Czech Republic
in its first round World Group tie on Feb. 7-9.
Safin, who withdrew from the Australian Open last week
with a wrist injury, won both his singles matches last
year when Russia beat France 3-2 in Paris in the final.
Instead, Russia will have Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mikhail
Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev against
the Czechs in Ostrava.
Jiri Novak, Radek Stepanek, Martin Damm and Cyril Suk
will represent the Czech Republic.
Last year's Australian Open runner-up Marat Safin
has withdrawn from the Australian Open with a wrist
The third seed was due to play Germany's Rainer Schuettler
in a third-round match on Saturday, but was forced to
default the match.
He told a news conference that he had torn ligaments
in his left wrist when he fell during his first-round
win over Raemon Sluiter.
"In my first match I fell down and felt some pain
and in the second match (against Albert Montanes) I
had an injection which is why I didn't feel anything,"
"It's a small cut in the ligament and the doctors
said it would take about two to three weeks to heal.
"I will have ice and laser treatment for the wrist
injury, but it basically needs rest."
The 22-year-old had been troubled by shoulder and back
problems since arriving in Australia.
He withdrew from the Sydney International last week
with an injured right shoulder, diagnosed as inflammation
of the rotator cuff.
Safin said that the injury-enforced break would be a
welcome relief after having only a few weeks to recover
from Russia's epic Davis Cup final win over France in
The Russian has been one of a number of players advocating
changes to the tennis calendar, saying the break between
seasons was too short and was contributing to injuries.
A number of top players, including defending champion
Thomas Johannson, pulled out of the Australian Open
before it began with niggling injuries.
"Everyone's trying to play too many tournaments
and because the level of tennis is so high the bodies
of the players cannot take it," Safin said.
"Every time you play you need two or three weeks
off because the body is getting tired really fast. We
don't have a rest at all now, so it's difficult."
Third seed Marat Safin warned his rivals that he
was saving himself for the second week of the Australian
Open after his second-round 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory
over Spain's Albert Montanes yesterday.
The big Russian, runner-up in Melbourne last year,
missed last week's Sydney International with a shoulder
injury but said he would be at full throttle for his
third-round match against Germany's Rainer Schuettler.
"I was trying to throw the ball in the right spot
so I didn't [hurt] my shoulder that much," said
Safin, who is still using anti-inflammatory drugs to
help with the pain. "I am trying to use less power
and less energy to be ready for the second week."
The 2000 US Open champion committed 53 unforced errors
and was given a warning for racquet abuse in a patchy
display on Rod Laver Arena.
But after that moment of frustration early in the third
set, Safin began to find his range from the baseline.
He broke the 81st-ranked Montanes soon after and took
the third set before rushing through the fourth to wrap
up the match in two hours and 10 minutes.
"The [shoulder] pain is going away completely.
Hopefully by the next match it will be perfect,"
His third-round opponent Schuettler, the No 31 seed,
defeated Dutch former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek
6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
"Schuettler beat Krajicek, so he is playing really
good. Every match is going to be tough but I'm on my
way," Safin said.
Safin said he was not concerned about the hot form
of Andre Agassi. "I don't really worry about him.
He is in great form and is physically strong. He came
here with his family, so he has to do well," he
joked. "But let's see what happens in the second
week. You can't judge people on just two matches. Other
players can get better in the second week and get more
Marat Safin overcame the loss of a set to quell
the challenge of canny Dutchman Raemon Sluiter at the
The Russian came into the tournament with a doubt about
his fitness after withdrawing from his last event with
a shoulder injury.
The injury appeared not to trouble him - although his
Safin took the first set comfortably but Sluiter's
clever shotmaking had the third seed struggling in the
second set and the Dutchman levelled it.
However, last year's finalist rediscovered his form
and won through 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Marat Safin says blood testing for the banned performance-enhancing
substance EPO is invasive and unnecessary, and that
players weren't properly consulted about its introduction
Blood testing for EPO -- short for erythropoieten --
is expected to be conducted for the first time at a
Grand Slam tennis tournament starting next week at the
Safin, a finalist at Melbourne Park last year, said
there was already enough drug testing and that EPO wasn't
a big issue in tennis.
"We go for too much. First of all, we have to go for
the urine testing, now we have to go to EPO -- I said
to the ATP that I don't think it's correct, but they
really didn't listen,'' Safin said after withdrawing
from the Adidas International on Thursday with a shoulder
The former U.S. Open champion said some people were
afraid of needles, others could object on cultural or
religious grounds. He said fellow Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov
was one of the people who doesn't a needle put into
"Not every person can take it, easily,'' Safin said.
"Some people, they get dizzy afterward.''
The Australian Sports Drug Agency, which can be commissioned
to conduct EPO tests throughout Australia, said only
10-12 milliliters (less than half a fluid ounce) of
blood is taken in a dual-test format, which also involves
a urine test.
An Australian Open official said it was agreed in principle
that blood-testing could be conducted at Melbourne Park.
However, he said the blood tests were supposed to be
random and, so, wouldn't necessarily start at the Australian
Open from Jan. 13-16.
Safin said tennis players didn't need endurance-enhancing
drugs due to the nature of the sport.
"I'm sure that nobody needs to take any drugs to be
able to play on the court,'' he said. "It's not the
kind of sport like cycling, for example, where you have
to go to the mountains for six hours. It's one hour
and a half of tennis, it's not so much.''
Safin seems to be in a minority of players who oppose
the blood tests.
A shoulder injury forced Marat Safin to withdraw
from the Sydney International on Thursday, prompting
fears that the Russian may not be fit for next week's
Safin was due to meet Korean qualifier Lee Hyung-taik
in Thursday's quarter-finals but had to pull out on
medical advice because of problems with his serving
"It hurts and I cannot serve, there's a lot of
pain," Safin said.
"(The doctor) said it's quite serious and it was
better to stop right now."
Safin said he still expected to play in the Australian
Open, which starts on Monday, but would ask officials
for a late start to give him as much time as possible
He said he would fly to Melbourne on Thursday night
to receive treatment and was prepared to play with painkillers
to get him through the first few rounds.
"I need to stop for a few days but I hope I will
be okay, I'm not sure but there is a chance," he
"I can play forehand, backhand, anything, expect
"I'll be okay but I'll ask for a late start and
try to recover."
Safin, seeded third this year, lost to Thomas Johansson
in the 2002 Australian Open final.
He just wanted to get out of there. The heat was
fuzzing his thinking, slowing him down. Marat Safin
was overhitting, mucking up volleys, but he won anyway.
Comfortably, but not quickly, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 over Finland's
On centre court Safin's sweat made his shirt transparent,
the heat made his skin pink and relief was obvious on
his face when, after one hour and 31 minutes, game,
set, match was called.
"It's the atmosphere, it's just so hot. Your muscles,
you are quite slow on the court," Safin said afterwards.
"When it's not so warm you can think. But here,
you just want to finish the point quickly and you want
to get out of the court.
"To run for the long points, it's difficult. That's
why you try to make them quick."
Safin shuffled through to the quarter-finals at the
adidas International at Homebush Bay with an unglamorous
win. He made 43 unforced errors - 10 more than his opponent.
Safin's massive first serve also suffered in the heat.
He could land only 53 per cent of first serves in, but
he still managed seven aces.
Safin said it was worth flogging himself in the harsh
conditions because when he took the court for the Australian
Open next week he would be well-prepared in the event
of sweltering conditions.
"It's good conditions to practise, the heat, windy.
So it can't be any worse," he said. "I think
it's a great way for practice.
"It was one of the hottest conditions I've played
in I think. Maybe Cincinnati, it's also difficult to
After the match Safin found an air conditioner to cool
down and later a cool shower. He stayed inside, "chilled
out", before a doubles match prolonged Safin's
pain. Just for a short moment.
As a precautionary measure, Safin retired from his
match with Nenad Zimonjic against Thomas Shimada and
Paradorn Srichaphan because of tendonitis in his right
It's hot, windy, the players are experiencing niggling
injuries and grumbling about the lack of time off between
seasons on the men's tennis circuit.
The season-opening Grand Slam tournament - the Australian
Open - starts next week in Melbourne.
Marat Safin, losing finalist in the Australian Open
last year, said he hadn't had enough time off after
helping Russia win the Davis Cup last month.
Rubbing the tender spots on his back Tuesday after a
6-1, 6-4 win over Belgian Olivier Rochus at the Sydney
International, Safin said he'd be picking and choosing
his tournaments in 2003.
Safin said many of his colleagues were dissatisfied
with the short break between seasons on the pro tennis
"We have the shortest vacations in any sport,"
the 22-year-old Russian said. "Every other sport
... they have enough time to recover, to have vacations
with family and then just to prepare for the next season.
"We have nothing. Last year I had two weeks of
vacation. There is no time to do something - if you
want to fly somewhere to have vacations, just you can
spend like 10 days somewhere."
Safin had a 56-26 record in singles in 2002 and finished
the year at No. 3, collecting more than US$1.7 million
in prizemoney to push his career total above US$8.4
He had a later end to the year than most, losing all
three group matches in the exclusive, season-ending
Tennis Masters Cup at Shanghai in November and then
helping Russia to a 3-2 win over France in the Davis
Cup final in Paris.
He spent a month in Moscow after that, including two
weeks of practice.
Safin said he couldn't relax but he couldn't party
too hard either because Russia was celebrating the Davis
Cup triumph and he had to be on the ball for all his
official engagements. He didn't think it appropriate
to meet the Russian president with the "smell of
alcohol on your mouth."
The former U.S. Open champion was back at work in Sydney,
preparing for the Jan. 13-26 Australian Open, but said
he'd skip the tournaments he didn't like this season.
World number three Marat Safin believes he is starting
to mature, which will help with his concentration and
chances of improving on last year's runners-up placing
in the Australian Open.
"My problem is not a tennis thing. It is mentally.
Sometimes my concentration goes away in the game and
it is difficult (to get it) to come back," Safin
told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
"That's why I am suffering sometimes. I understand
this, I know what I have to do but it is really, really
tough to bring myself to this level.
"I'm trying and I'm trying and I'm growing up.
I'm going to be 23 soon and I'm hoping that I'll manage
to bring this level to my game."
The Russian, who has a birthday on January 27, starts
his campaign for the year's first grand slam tournament,
which begins in Melbourne on January 13, with a match
on Tuesday at the Sydney International tournament against
Rochus, the world number 64, beat the Russian in the
second round at Wimbledon last year, where Safin was
the second seed.
Safin, who lost the Australian Open final to Sweden's
Thomas Johnansson last January, while concerned with
his own game said he is not the only top player without
an all-round game.
"Everybody has something but is missing something,"
"(Australia's world number one) Lleyton Hewitt
is an unbelievable fighter but he doesn't have big strokes.
He doesn't have an unbelievable serve, unbelievable
forehand and backhand.
"(Former world number one Pete) Sampras has an
unbelievable forehand, but he is not really good on
"There is not one player who has everything. It's
"Take (world number two Andre) Agassi. He's an
unbelievable baseline player, but he's not good at the
net. He knows that everybody knows he has no clue at
"Take anybody you want ... I have my problems also."
Safin said of his match against Rochus: "It's a
great chance for revenge. It was not my best match at
Marat Safin played great tennis in the final of
the Davis Cup against France. It was because of him
that Russia was able to win the coveted trophy for the
first time. The 22 year old won both his singles matches
by producing some awesome power; the second one leveling
the final that kept Russia’s hopes alive.
Safin will now take a break from tennis and recharge
his batteries for the adidas International, 5 to 11
January. The big Russian spearheads a tremendous field
that will take to the courts at the Sydney International
Tennis Centre at Sydney Olympic Park.
"The year is finished and I was waiting for that
so badly but I also wanted to finish the year with a
good match and I played it," said Safin. "Now
I can go for vacations, watch television and be relaxed
for a couple of weeks. Then I will get ready for next
year. It was important to finish the year with good
wins to give a good feeling for next year."
Safin is regarded as one of the most colourful players
in men's tennis and his numerous responses in media
conferences won him the "ASAP Most Quotable Player
Award" by the International Tennis Writers Association
last year. He is a winner of eleven career titles, the
most recent one being the BNP Paribas Masters at Bercy
in Paris, the same venue that hosted the Davis Cup final.
In 2002 he was also a finalist at the Australian Open
and a semifinalist at the French Open.
At 1.93m, he is one of the tallest players on the tour
and his incredible reach makes it very difficult to
He speaks fluent Russian, English and Spanish having
grown up in Spain where he developed his tennis skills.
Marat was named after Jean Paul Marat the French revolutionary
who died in 1793.
Safin will end the 2002 season ranked three in the
The Moscovite who resides in Monte Carlo, will be joined
at the adidas International by four other players who
qualified for the recent season-ending Tennis Masters
Cup - Roger Federer the defending adidas champion, Carlos
Moya, French Open winner Albert Costa and Juan Carlos
Ferrero, who was runner-up in Shanghai. Also in the
line-up will be James Blake, Andy Roddick and Juan Ignacio
Chela, finalist at the 2002 adidas.