Marat Safin

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06/14/2001 London, UK
Top seed Marat Safin wasted two match points and was knocked out of the Stella Artois tournament 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 by Dutchman Peter Wessels on Thursday.
The towering Russian, the reigning U.S. Open champion, got off to a good start in the third round match but Wessels's grasscourt expertise told as the match wore on.
Wessels, ranked 102 in the world, grabbed the first mini-break in the decisive tie-break, only for Safin to snatch it back and secure a first match point.
It was saved by the Dutchman, who saved one more with a sliding serve before clinching victory when Safin poked a backhand volley into the net.
Safin said he was pleased with his performance. "I don't know why everyone says Safin can't play on grass," he said.
"Basically I think I was a little bit unlucky. Come on, it was a three-set match and I had two match points."
The world No. 3 does not plan any more tournaments before Wimbledon on June 25.
"No...believe me, one week on grass is enough...more than enough," Safin smiled.
The Russian said he planned to play two grasscourt exhibition matches next week and practice on a fast indoor court to fine-tune his timing.

06/12/2001 London, UK
Top-seeded Marat Safin recovered from a shaky start in his first match on grass this season to beat Jens Knippschild 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round at the Queen's Club tournament Tuesday.
" It's my first match on grass and of course it's very difficult. The first set it was very tough but then at the end I got confident,'' Safin said.
The Russian, who won the U.S. Open last year, is being coached by former player Mats Wilander.
"I think he's helping me a lot and I'm very happy to be working with him. It's a big honor,'' Safin said. "I'm very happy with the job we are doing right now. I think we will work (together) for a few years.''

06/11/2001 London, UK
Top seed Marat Safin of Russia tries to bounce back from a disappointing French Open on Tuesday when he plays Jens Knippschild of Germany in the second round at the $775,000 Stella Artois Championships, a warmup tournament for Wimbledon.
Safin lost in five sets to Fabrice Santoro in the third round in Paris, and is without a title this season after winning an ATP-high seven last year. He is struggling to overcome back problems incurred during the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in early March.
Safin, who recently shaved his head clean, received a first-round bye as one of the top eight seeds. He is 2-0 all-time against Knippschild.

06/02/2001 Paris, France
2000 U.S. Open champion Marat Safin lost to Fabrice Santoro of France 6-4 6-4 4-6 0-6 6-1 in the third round of Roland Garros on Saturday.
Even though Santoro had beaten him five out of six times coming into the match, it was the pair's first meeting on clay and Marat Safin had vowed to stay focused during the match. But after a disastrous fifth set in which he committed 19 unforced errors - many of them on sitters - the No2-seeded Safin stormed off the court in disgust and quickly left the facility without talking to the press, for which he was fined $10,000.
"I respect Marat for what he accomplished last year, but he has to grow up as a mature person because his attitude is not quite professional," Safin's Russian compatriot Yevgeny Kafelnikov said before the match. "I'm strongly hoping that he's going to change his attitude and understand that sometimes success is in the past. He has to try to move on."
"He's not as confident as he once was, but he's still a great player," said Santoro. "He hasn't won as much this year so his confidence rises and falls quickly." Santoro lost control of the contest in the third set, when he couldn't hold on to a 4-2 lead. But after Safin broke him to open the fifth set, Santoro ran off six straight games by playing nearly error-free tennis and keeping the ball low with wicked slice shots.

06/02/2001 Paris, France
2000 U.S. Open champion Marat Safin lost to Fabrice Santoro of France 6-4 6-4 4-6 0-6 6-1 in the third round of Roland Garros on Saturday.
Even though Santoro had beaten him five out of six times coming into the match, it was the pair's first meeting on clay and Marat Safin had vowed to stay focused during the match. But after a disastrous fifth set in which he committed 19 unforced errors - many of them on sitters - the No2-seeded Safin stormed off the court in disgust and quickly left the facility without talking to the press, for which he was fined $10,000.
"I respect Marat for what he accomplished last year, but he has to grow up as a mature person because his attitude is not quite professional," Safin's Russian compatriot Yevgeny Kafelnikov said before the match. "I'm strongly hoping that he's going to change his attitude and understand that sometimes success is in the past. He has to try to move on."
"He's not as confident as he once was, but he's still a great player," said Santoro. "He hasn't won as much this year so his confidence rises and falls quickly." Santoro lost control of the contest in the third set, when he couldn't hold on to a 4-2 lead. But after Safin broke him to open the fifth set, Santoro ran off six straight games by playing nearly error-free tennis and keeping the ball low with wicked slice shots.

06/01/2001 Paris, France
This may not be the 28-year-old Santoro's last appearance on Chatrier Court, but the cagey Frenchmen doesn't have too many dates left. His best result at home was reaching the fourth round in '91, a decent but not great result for someone who has spent most of his career in the top 50.
With a bad back and shaky confidence, Safin is primed to fall early this year, but given that he nearly gagged to Alex Calatrava in the last round and managed to survive, he might be due for a visit to the proverbial "zone" against Fabrice. Safin strikes the ball about twice as hard as Santoro, but Fabrice has two of the best hands in the game and will play all the angles with his two-handed sliced forehand. The crowd loves the Tahiti-born scrapper and he'll give big Marat all he can handle in a four-set loss.

05/31/2001 Paris, France
Second seed Marat Safin of Russia continued to struggle but he survived another scare by slipping past Spain's Alex Calatrava, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3. Safin also needed five sets to win his first-round match.
Safin, the 2000 U.S Open champion, more than met his match in the gritty claycourt specialist Calatrava, who ran the burly Russian ragged throughout the three-hour, 29-minute ordeal.
After the match, the No2 seed, who committed a mammoth 90 unforced errors, admitted that he was thankful for the workout: "I'm glad I suffered, I fight and won this match. I'm glad I can fight and win matches, especially against guys like Alex. He played great today," said Safin, adding that his injured back felt a "little stiff".
"I'm not happy completely with my game. I was playing perfect tactically for a while there, starting to get my confidence back. Then I missed a few balls and he started to pick up," said the Russian, referring to the point where he failed to serve out the match at 6-5 in the fourth set.
"So I'm satisfied I win because I was completely lost there. I was angry enough to break a racket, but I don't have so many yet, so I have to do something else." The moody Safin flung his racket across the court after losing the fourth set in a tiebreak, receiving a warning from the chair umpire for his efforts.
A quarter finalist here last year, Safin will now meet Fabrice Santoro for a place in the fourth round: "Fabrice will be difficult . If I want to win this tournament though, I have to beat him, it doesn't matter how. I have to beat him,"Safin said.
"Marat and I haven't played each other on clay yet, but this surface can change a lot of things,"Santoro said.

05/29/2001 Paris, France
In the men's draw, No. 2 Marat Safin attempted to kick-start his season with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-1 win over Austrian Markus Hipfl.
The 21-year-old Russian has not gotten past the second round this year in the first five Masters Series events, which are second in importance only to Grand Slams.
The reigning U.S. Open champion has been hampered by a back injury since February, but has continued to play major tournaments -- by his own admission, to avoid losing money.
"I'm glad that I've recovered from the injury,'' said Safin, although he admitted he was only ''60 percent'' better.

05/26/2001 Paris, France
Defending champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil and Russia's Marat Safin are the top two men's seeds for the year's second grand slam, the French Open, which begins on Monday.
Marat Safin, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in three previous French Open appearances. His was knocked out in the quarters in 2000 and is just 2-4 on clay this season.

05/26/2001 Dusseldorf, Germany
Australia overcame the loss of one of its top players Saturday to defeat Russia, 2-1, in the final of the $2.1 million ATP World Team Championship.
Lleyton Hewitt gave Australia the early lead by defeating U.S. Open champion Marat Safin, 6-3, 6-4.
But Australia did not have the services of Patrick Rafter for the second singles match against Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
"Marat is such a tough player to play. It's nice to have a win over a guy [Marat] who is a contender for the French Open" Hewitt said."
The moody Safin, who soared up the rankings last season and won the U.S. Open, rattled off three straight errors in the decisive break.
After he netted another backhand, Safin slammed a ball into the stands in frustration and drew a warning. Earlier in the week, he broke a racket and accused the referee of being biased against Russians.
This year the 21-year-old has made a series of first and second round exits at tournaments and has struggled on clay.
Hewitt and Safin could possibly face each other again in the French Open semifinals.
Marat Safin is seeded second at the French Open and will meet Austria's Markus Hipfl.

05/24/2001 Dusseldorf, Germany
Russia Wins the Red Group
On Thursday the Russian squad secured their place in the final for the Red Group.
On Thursday at the ARAG World Team Championships, Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov rallied from behind to defeat doubles team of Lucas Arnold and Martin Garcia 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, to secure a 3-0 victory over Argentina.
With their victory, Russia won the Red Group over France, the USA and Argentina, and now awaits an opponent from the opposing Blue Group.
Giving Russia the early advantage over Argentina on Center Court 2, Safin scored a straight set 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over Franco Squillari.
Extending Russia's lead to 2-0 in the second singles match, Kafelnikov rallied from being down a set to upend Mariano Puerta 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Returning to the court to upend Arnold and Garcia, Kafelnikov and Safin completed their second sweep of the tournament after 3-0 victory against the USA on Tuesday.
Safin, the world No. 2, has made five exits by the second round in tournaments this year and struggled on clay.
"I've got my confidence back after the last two difficult matches I've won here. Now I'm ready for the French Open," said Safin. "Contrary to last year, I think about what I'm doing."
The towering 20-year-old reached the fourth round of Paris last year amidst a year in which he captured seven titles and joined the ranks of the world's best players.

05/22/2001 Dusseldorf, Germany
Russia Triumphs over America.
Led by Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov on Tuesday, Russia posted a 3-0 victory over America.
As the Red Group resumed play at the ARAG World Team Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov battled past American New Balls please campaign star Jan-Michael Gambill 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 on Center Court 1, to take the early one set advantage over the USA.
Continuing Russia's dominance over the USA in the second singles match, Gambill's Russian New Balls Please comrade Marat Safin scored a straight-set 7-6, 7-5 victory over Pete Sampras to clinch the tie for Russia.
Completing the sweep over the USA, Safin and Kafelnikov edged out Americans Andy Roddick and Scott Humphries in two tie-breaks 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in the final doubles match.
With the victories, Russia upped its overall record to 3-3, after suffering early defeats to France on Sunday.

05/21/2001 Dusseldorf, Germany
Marat Safin was embroiled in controversy as he was beaten 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 by Sebastien Grosjean of France at the World Team Cup. The Russian, who has a reputation for a short temper after destroying a record number of racquets, was given a game penalty as Grosjean led 4-3 in the second set. The trouble started late in the first set as he smashed his racquet and he later fired a ball out of court and then banged the chair of American umpire Norm Chryst. The game penalty left Grosjean serving for the match at 5-3. A fuming Safin suggested afterwards that the umpire was anti-Russian. "I think we were playing a great match, great points. Everybody was happy, and he destroyed the match completely," Safin said. "If he has something against Russians he can just say it and not umpire us, because he had a problem last week with Kafelnikov and now against he made me a penalty game. The guy is crazy. He has no clue about anything on the court." Chryst, who defaulted Kafelnikov for swearing at him during a doubles match last week in Hamburg, received qualified support from Grosjean. "The umpire has to do something, otherwise it's tough afterwards for him to control Marat," said the Frenchman. "Although he hit the umpires chair it was not too hard." Kafelnikov's wretched clay court season continued when he was crushed 6-0, 6-3 by Arnaud Clement, giving France a winning 2-0 lead in the best of three-match tie. In five clay court tournaments this year, the tortured Russian's only victory came in Rome when his opponent retired with an injury. The French then sealed the Russian�s fate with a convincing win in the doubles rubber. Clement and Grosjean came from a set down to complete a clean sweep of Kafelnikov and Safin winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

05/17/2001Hamburg, Germany
Marat Safin made a special visit to the Airbus plant just outside of Hamburg on Monday. The plant, which is responsible for building the new A3XX Airbus airplane to be in use around 2006, offered plenty of allure for the reigning US Open champion.
The afternoon was highlighted by a ride in the flight simulator, where Safin proficiently piloted an A-320 plane through the air and down for landing.
He also checked out the assembly line, where the Russian learned that the A-320 planes are built in just 21 days at a cost of $40,000,000 each.
"Do you have any second hand models that are cheaper?" asked a wide-eyed Safin. "No," replied an Airbus representative. "But I can put you in touch with some people that can help in that area."
Safin, realizing that buying such a plane was a bit out of his budget, smiled and thanked her for the offer.

05/16/2001Hamburg, Germany
Marat Safin's miserable season plumbed new depths on Wednesday when he was beaten 6-0, 7-6 (7-0) by Gaston Gaudio of Argentina in the second round of the Hamburg Masters.
The world No. 2 and U.S. Open champion is yet to win a tournament this year and looked a forlorn figure on a windy court at the Rothenbaum Tennis Centre.
Marat Safin, finalist here last year, could barely keep the ball in play in the first set as world number 40 dominated. He rallied in the second set, though, finally registering on the scoreboard but fell apart in the tie-break.
The Argentine swept into a 6-0 lead and clinched victory when Safin double-faulted.

05/15/2001Hamburg, Germany
In search of his first title of the year, No. 2 seed Marat Safin posted a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Germany's own Jens Knippschild.
Wrapping up his first round engagement in 1 hour and 8 minutes, Safin, Hamburg's finalist last year, capitalized on several early Knippschild unforced errors and the German's inability to convert on key opportunities to race to a 4-1 lead before closing out the first set with a solid performance.
Regrouping in the second set to take the edge off of Safin's first-set momentum, Knippschild mixed long powerful groundstrokes with delicate drop shots to match the Russian New Balls Please campaign star point for point, and stay in contention.
At 3-3, Safin finally scored a break of the German's serve, only to have Knippschild respond with a break of his own. Despite a valiant effort from Knippschild, Safin aggressively attacked the net to score his second-straight break of the German's serve, and held his own to secure the victory.
In hope of returning to the form that won the Russian seven titles last year, Safin, who is finally recovering from a back injury suffered at Dubai, said afterward: "It's nice to get my confidence back. I satisfied with my first round performance."
On Wednesday, Safin will square off against Gaston Gaudio, who cut short compatriot Mariano Puerta's Hamburg campaign 6-2, 6-3 in their all-Argentine clash.
Marat Safin and Marc Rosset (SUI) in doubles lost to duo Aspelin/Kratzmann 0-6, 5-7.

05/09/2001 Rome, Italy
Russia�s US Open champion Marat Safin blasted organisers of the Wimbledon Championships over their controversial seeding system, saying the seeding committee of the world's premier grasscourt tournament knew nothing about tennis.
The 21-year-old US Open champion, speaking after his 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) defeat at the hands of Switzerland�s Roger Federer in the second round of the Tennis Masters Series here, expressed his anger at the system that leaves players in the dark as to whether they will be seeded or not until just before the tournament.
"It�s just a big mess," said Safin. "It�s not nice to do all these things to these players and they have to do something else. They have to respect us. I mean we are running 365 days a year, trying to get the points for Wimbledon to get seeded in Wimbledon and it�s coming there and you�re not seeded. Well you say �why I am playing tennis?�"
The Russian continued: "I mean the people who don�t know - probably no idea - some of them have no idea about tennis, they have to decide if I am - if I have to be seeded or not. I think it�s not correct."
"And I want to say it�s my opinion," he said. "And I don�t want to get in any polemics or anything."
But asked if he was going to play Safin said: "I will play. Play, play. I am seeded I think."

05/09/2001 Rome, Italy
In Wednesday�s action the biggest name to fall was second seed Marat Safin, who lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 to Switzerland's Roger Federer. The Russian seemed frustrated throughout the tense affair, which saw him throw his racket to the floor in the Foro Italico on numerous occasions.
Safin, 21, blamed his loss on a lack of practice since suffering a back injury in March, having only begun to practice his serve on Friday.
The Russian was unable to take advantage of the 64 unforced errors off the racket of Federer, who compensated with 43 winners.
Even if his game may still be a bit rusty, the Russian star -- who won in three sets in his first round match -- was in his prime feisty form between points and after the match.
Racket slamming after missed shots, fist-pumping after winners and no mincing of words in the post-match press conference.
Asked if Federer presented a threat to him in the years to come, Safin shrugged off the prospect.
"With all respect to Roger, we have completely different results," he said. "I have more competitions, more titles, a grand slam. You can't compare us."
Asked if he has busted any rackets in the two matches since returning from his injury, Safin smiled. "No, not yet."

05/08/2001 Rome, Italy
In the first round of Masters Series in Roma Marat Safin (2) came through a tough encounter against Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. The Russian, who has been struggling recently with a rib problem, now plays Roger Federer in the second round.

04/22/2001 Barcelona, Spain
Russia's Marat Safin will be unable to defend his Barcelona Open title after he pulled out of the tournament with a back injury on Saturday.
The U.S. Open champion announced his decision after the tournament doctor diagnosed a muscle tear in his back.
"Despite my hopes of taking part the back pain was getting worse all the time and it was impossible to play," Safin told reporters.
"I am really sorry because the fans here treat me like a player of their own."
Safin has made his home in nearby Valencia.
He originally picked up the injury in a tournament in Dubai in February.

04/19/2001 Monte-Carlo, Monaco
US Open Champion signs multi-million dollar deal
Dunlop has announced the signing of a 4 year, multi-million dollar deal with Russian tennis ace Marat Safin. Under the agreement, 21 year old Safin will play the Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G racquet from the start of April. Safin took the tennis world by storm in 2000 becoming the youngest U.S. Open Champion for a decade as well as breaking a host of tournament win records on his way to holding the #1 ranking in the World in September last year. His victories earned him praise from all quarters, and his powerful game paired with his approachable style have led him to be branded "the future of tennis".

04/17/2001 Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Marat Safin, tossing his racket in his trademark display of anger, lost 6-3, 6-1 to Arnaud Di Pasquale of France on Tuesday in the first round of the Masters Series Monte Carlo.
The top-seeded Russian conceded five service games -- three of them at love -- and was eliminated in 52 minutes. The one-sided loss raised concerns over Safin's game following a back injury in March.
The 21-year-old U.S. Open champion grimaced with frustration and hurled his racket several times during a string of unforced errors, including a double fault that cost him the next-to-last game.
"Today I couldn't do anything," Safin said. "I just tried to build a game, but it was a disaster.
Di Pasquale, the 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, made his share of errors in the first set but remained in control for the crucial points.
Safin is No. 1 in the ATP's rolling 52-week ranking system thanks to last year's performance in which he won seven titles. But he is No. 20 in the 2001 Champions Race, with no titles this season.
In March, Safin lost the final of the Dubai Open to Juan Carlos Ferrero after retiring in the second set because of a back injury. He pulled out of the Davis Cup quarterfinals against Sweden this month because of the ailment.
Safin has lost in the first round in both previous appearances at Monte Carlo.

04/14/2001 Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Top seed Marat Safin was given a tough draw on Friday as he attempts to kick-start a miserable season at the $2.95 million Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
The Russian world No. 1, yet to win a title this year, opens his campaign at the first major clay court tournament of the season against wily Frenchman Arnaud di Pasquale.
Safin is struggling with a back injury and has been erratic all season, failing to recapture the form that saw him win the U.S. Open last year.
Di Pasquale is a danger. He knows how to lift his game for the big occasion, as he did when winning bronze at the Sydney Olympics last year.

04/06/2001 Malmo, Sweden
Russia missed World No. 1 Marat Safin on the first day of play in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. Russia got off to a rough start as Sweden took a 2-0 lead.

04/05/2001 Malmo, Sweden
Russia's chance of beating Sweden in the Davis Cup received a major setback Thursday when Marat Safin was scratched from the team.
Safin, last year's U.S. Open champion and runner-up in the ATP Champions Race, injured his back a month ago and had been listed as doubtful for the quarterfinal World Group match against Sweden.

Has Marat Safin met his match? The reigning U.S. Open champion, no slouch when it comes to smashing his rackets, has signed a four-year, multimillion dollar deal to endorse Dunlop tennis rackets. Safin will begin playing with the Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G racket in April. It's not the first time Dunlop has put its rackets into the hands of a volatile player. John McEnroe's last wooden racket -- one he helped design -- was a Dunlop.
"It's great to be a part of a team that has such a drive and commitment to making sports equipment that can be relied on during those key points in a match.'' -- Marat Safin, known for smashing his rackets on key points in a match, after signing a racket contract with Dunlop.

Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov will lead the Russian Davis Cup team in its quarterfinal tie against host Sweden next month. Newcomers Mikhail Youzhny and Andrei Stolyarov join Safin and Kafelnikov on the squad which will meet the Swedes April 6-8th.
Safin is carries a rib cage injury into the tie and Kafelnikov carries a six-match losing streak to likely Swede selection Thomas Johansson into the tie, but Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev hopes the pair can lift Russia to victory.
"Marat is at home in Valencia right now, undergoing physical treatment," Tarpishchev said. "Basically, it's day-to-day with him. Recently, he even suggested during a press conference that he won't play for a month. So, we'll have to wait and see what happens. The other key thing for us is how quickly Kafelnikov will be able to adjust to a different time zone and different surface."

03/23/2001 Key Biscayne, Miami, USA - Ericsson Open
Marat Safin's back hurts, his ribs hurt, and he says the ATP is a pain, too.
Hampered by injuries, Safin lost his opening match Friday at the Ericsson Open to Juan Balcells of Spain, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Moving stiffly, Safin lobbed in first serves at 90 mph, well below his norm. He said he felt pressure to play with his injuries because of ATP Tour rules, including a ranking and bonus pay system that penalizes players who withdraw from tournaments.
"I'm angry with the ATP,'' Safin said. "They don't think about me. They don't care what's going on with me.''
If Safin plays in all nine Tennis Masters Series events this year, including Ericsson, he'll earn a $1.05 million bonus. If he misses one event, the bonus drops by $700,000.
The Russian said he'll return to Europe for treatment and isn't sure when he'll play again. With rest, he said, his injuries could take up to a month to heal.

03/22/2001 Key Biscayne, Miami, USA - Ericsson Open

Three New Balls Please stars swam with dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium.
On Tuesday afternoon Marat Safin, Tommy Haas and Jan-Michael Gambill swam with dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium. The trio are in town for the Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne.
Prior to swimming with the dolphins, the three learned about training and caring for them. Upon entering the pool they learned how to assimilate with the dolphins, who are very sensitive to strangers.
After feeding them, the players each got rides around the
pool pulled by the dolphins dorsal fin and being pushed by the feet the length of the compound. Safin also enjoyed the interaction with nature. "We don't have dolphins in Russia so I probably won't have the chance to do that again. They were a little slippery, so I had a little trouble riding them, but it was fun."
The event was covered by a host of local and national media outlets, including AP, ESPN Mag and SI as well as the News Services crew CBS' TopSpin.

The New Balls Please stars are nominees for the Laureus World Sports Awards 2001.
Marat Safin and Juan Carlos Ferrero have been nominated for the World Newcomer of the Year award in the Laureus World Sports Awards 2001.
The two New Balls Please stars will be up against cricketer Brett Lee, golfer Aaron Baddeley and Formula One driver Jenson Button. The Laureus World Sports Awards honor the achievements of the world's greatest sportsmen and women on an annual basis.
Nominations for the awards, submitted by a Selection Panel of more than 300 leading sports journalists in 75 countries worldwide are collated by an independent audit firm and submitted to the World Sports Academy, who then elect the award winners by secret ballot.

03/13/2001 Indian Wells, USA
Second-ranked Marat Safin, his sore back forcing him to hit soft serves and making it a struggle just to get around the court, was upset by Thomas Johansson on Tuesday in the men's Masters Series tournament.
Johansson, sending the U.S. Open champion scrambling side to side and tossing in an occasional drop shot against his slowed opponent, won the first-round match 7-5, 7-5.
Standing flat-footed rather then arching his back when he served, Safin hit many of his first serves around 90 mph, more than 48 kph (30 mph) slower than usual.
The 21-year-old Russian, afraid to make sudden movements that might aggravate his back injury, made 33 unforced errors and hit only 10 winners.
"I'm a little disappointed that the injury is this week, which is Masters Series and is very important to me," Safin said. "But all the time you have to be careful. The problem is that I'm scared a little bit to get injured again. I have pain, but it's more that you get scared.
"I think it is better to lose here in the first round, to prepare myself and be 100 percent for Miami [the Ericsson tournament next week]."
Safin hurt his back, apparently a pulled muscle, earlier this month at Dubai, where searing pain caused him to quit in the second set against Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Asked why he didn't default against Johansson, Safin said: "You have to try. Why not? I tried and I didn't lose 6-0, 6-0."

03/10/2001 ATP AWARDS
Marat Safin, the US Open champion who won an ATP best seven titles during the year and came so close to clinching the coveted year-end World No. 1 position, won three awards. The 21-year-old Russian was voted Most Improved Player by his fellow professionals, New Balls Please Fans' Choice and ASAP Sports Most Quotable Player of the Year by the International Tennis Writers' Association.
"It's a great honor for me to receive any award, but to receive three at once is very special" said Safin.

Marat Safin appeared to be back on the winning track, but a minor muscle tear in his back may sideline him for up to two weeks.
The U.S. Open champion, who will be examined by a doctor today, will most likely miss the Indian Wells next week.
"He will probably have to miss the Indian Wells," said Russian Tennis Federation president and Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev in an interview with Reuters. "In all likelihood Marat will need up to two weeks to recover from a minor muscle tear in his back. He is seeing a doctor on Tuesday and then we can give a better assessment of the extent of his injury."
The 21-year-old Safin, who had struggled since the start of the year, was regaining his form last week when he injured his back in the third set of the Dubai semifinals against unseeded Swede Thomas Johansson. Safin held on to win the match, but was forced to retire with the back injury the next day while trailing Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 3-1 in the final.

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