Safin Playing for First 2004 Title in ATP Beijing Final

Posted on September 19, 2004

Marat Safin will look to pull out of his hardcourt slump with a first title in 2004 when he faces Russian compatriot Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the ATP stop at Beijing today.

The No. 5-seeded Safin overwhelmed Fin Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-4, to advance to his third final of the year.

"It feels good to be playing so well again," said Safin who has not lost a set in the tournament. "It's been a long time since I played so well and for me it's a big thing to be in a final again."

Safin is 0-2 in finals this year, losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and to Juan Ignacio Chela on clay in Estoril.

The unseeded Youzhny took out crowd favorite and No. 6 seed Paradorn "The Thai Fighter" Srichaphan 6-4, 6-4 in his semifinal.

Safin won his lone meeting with Youzhny in straight sets at the 2002 Australian Open.

"All the pressure is going to be on me," Safin said. "I'm more experienced, a little bit older, I've been in more finals. Basically, he has nothing to lose."

The doubles final will be all-American, with No. 2-seeded Justin "Time" Gimelstob and Graydon Oliver against Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Taylor Dent.

Mello Yello Stuns Baby Goran, to Face Spadea in ATP Delray Beach Final

Unseeded Ricardo Mello "Yello" of Brazil upset No. 3 seed Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic 7-6(2), 6-3 Saturday to advance to the final of the ATP stop at Delray Beach.

"It's a very good sensation," Mello said. "I didn't expect to get to an ATP final this fast. I'm going to walk on to the court very loose with the mentality to win the match. It's another match."

Baby Goran, who usually dictates play, found himself on the defensive much of the match.

"He was making me run. He was in control of the points," Ancic said. "Usually, I'm the one who is in control of everything."

In the final Mello Yello will face top-seeded South Florida local Vince Spadea, who punished journeyman and countryman Jeff Salzenstein 6-1, 6-3.

"I've been struggling a little this summer, and had a few disappointments at the Olympics and at the (US) Open," Spadea said. "The great thing about tennis is I can redeem myself now."

It will be the first meeting between Spadea and Mello.

"I hadn't seen too much of him in the past two years," Spadea said. "He's a guy who likes to run and grind. I'm
going to hopefully use the crowd to my advantage and the confidence I have now."

The doubles final will be Argentines (1) Etlis/Rodriguez vs. (2) Paes/Stepenak.

Unseeded Acasuso Advances to Singles, Doubles Finals at ATP Bucharest

Unseeded in both singles and doubles, Argentina's Jose Acasuso will attempt a double upset Sunday when he competes in the singles and doubles finals at the ATP stop in Bucharest.

In the Saturday semifinals Acasuso outlasted No. 7 seed Filippo Volandri 7-6(5), 6-2 on the red dirt, and on Sunday will face No. 4-seeded Russian Igor Andreev, who upset No. 2 Florian Mayer 6-4 in the third.

"It was a tough match, I think that the key was to win the first set in the tiebreak," said Acasuso, who is nothing if not insightful.

Acasuso won his lone meeting with Andreev in three sets at Bucharest in 2003.

"It's going to be a tough match," Acasuso said. "He is very solid right now but I have to concentrate on my game and my shots. I have to play at my best to win. I have some experience from playing a final before. I think the experience from having played the final in Gstaad will help me tomorrow."

In the doubles final the unseeded Acasuso and Oscar Hernandez face the No. 2-seeded tandem of Lucas Arnold and Mariano Hood.

Russian Kuznetsova Gains Bali Final, Keeps US Open Momentum

No. 2-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame a stern test from countrywoman and No. 4 seed Nadia Petrova 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-2 Saturday in the semifinals at the WTA stop in Bali.

"After the first set I knew that she was tired," Kuznetsova said. "I was tired too but I was trying hard to play each ball. I feel great but humidity is very tough here. I didn't have time to switch time zones. I'm jet-lagged and the court is so much different here but I was trying my best."

In the final the Russian will face unseeded German Marlene Weingartner, who outlasted Italy's Maria Elena Camerin 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Kuznetsova will go for another title in the doubles final, teaming with mentor Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario against Anastasia Myskina and Ai Sugiyama.

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