Safin Beats Youzhny for First 2004 Title at ATP Beijing



Posted on September 20, 2004


Marat Safin, who slumped through the Athens Olympics and US Open with early-round losses, broke through Sunday at the ATP stop in Beijing for his first title of the year, beating Russian countryman Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(4), 7-5.

"You forget this feeling," said Safin on winning his first title in approximately two years. "I started to feel happy...(It's) not party time, time to continue working."

Youzhny found success in mixing it up but choked at 5-5 in the second set, double faulting to give up the game.

"If you want to beat him, you need to do something more," Youzhny said. "That's why I threw in some slice, came into net."

Safin says his coach Peter Lundgren is getting him on course.

"(He helps) to hold my emotions a little bit longer, keep everything in yourself, there is a chance the other person will be surprised," Safin said. "(He helps) to play better, perform better, remain calm to give a chance to win a match, not go crazy."

In the doubles final, No. 2-seeded Americans Justin "Time" Gimelstob and Graydon Oliver beat countrymen Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Taylor Dent 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) for their first title as a team.

Mello Steals First Career Title From Spadea at ATP Delray Beach

Unseeded Brazilian Ricardo Mello "Yello" won his first career title in his first career final Sunday at the ATP stop in Delray Beach, upsetting local favorite and No. 1 seed Vince Spadea 7-6(2), 6-3.

"My strategy was to put pressure on his second serve," Mello Yello said. "I returned serve very well this week, and that was really important for me. I was very tired, but I knew (he) was tired also."

Spadea was complimentary of his opponent. Or not.

"I just lost the match," Spadea said. "It was hot. He out-grinded me. I didn't come out firing in the first game. It felt like I was running a marathon out there, not playing good tennis. Nothing really existed of mine today. I was a flat tennis player."

In the doubles final the No. 2-seeded Indian/Czech duo of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek rolled top-seeded Argentines Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriguez 6-0, 6-3 for their first title as a team.

Unseeded Acasuso Romps to ATP Bucharest Title

Argentina's Jose Acasuso completed his unseeded run Sunday at the ATP stop in Bucharest, rolling over No. 4-seeded Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-0 for his first win of 2004.

It was the second career title for Acasuso after Sopot, also on clay, in 2002. The Argentine is now 1-1 in finals in 2004 after losing in Gstaad.

"I had a wonderful week in Bucharest and the last day was the best," said Acasuso. "Everything I tried worked."

Andreev said he gained knowledge from being served the bagel.

"You learn very much with every final," Andreev said. "It will help me to win a title in the future. It's the last claycourt tournament for me but anyway, when you win matches it gives you more confidence and you start playing better."

Acasuso had a chance to make it a double in Bucharest with Oscar Hernandez in the doubles final, but lost to No. 2 seeds Lucas Arnold and Mariano Hood 7-6(5), their second title of the year.

Kuznetsova Wins Second Consecutive Tour Title at WTA Bali

No. 2-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova steamrolled unseeded German Marlene Weingartner 6-1, 6-4 for her third title of the year at the WTA stop in Bali, and second consecutive after the US Open.

Kuznetsova also won the Bali title in 2002.

"The key was to just stay in the match," said Kuznetsova, who lengthened her win streak to 11 matches. "I didn't play my best, definitely. I played well in the first set, but Marlene couldn't find anything to play against me."

In the doubles final, (1) Anastasia Myskina/Ai Sugiyama beat the unseeded Kuznetsova/Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-3, 7-5 for a first title in their first teaming.

WTA Preview: Beijing

Cha-ching! Beijing spreads some more cash around this week for a WTA stop, with a Tier II event featuring three Top 10 players in former No. 1 Serena Williams, US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova. Joining them among the seeds are Russians Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova, Gisela Dulko, Jelena Jankovic, and Jelena Dokic.

The Top 4 seeds receive byes in typical early-round interest-killing WTA style, but there remain a few potential early-round matches of interest in (1) Serena vs. Dinara "Little Sis" Safina in the second round, (5) Petrova vs. the crowd-supported comer Jie Zheng, and (7) Jankovic vs. Shinobu Asagoe.

Beijing bought the event from Shanghai, where it was held from 2000-2003.

On court Monday in Beijing is Safina vs. Yan, Vento-Kabchi vs. Pennetta, Dulko vs. Kapros, Panova vs. Pisnik, and Anabel "Funky Cold" Medina Garrigues vs. Obata.

Davis Cup Semifinal Previews: Belarus at U.S., France at Spain

The Davis Cup World Group semifinals will be played this weekend from Sept. 24-26, with the U.S. at home against Belarus, and France travelling to Spain.

The U.S. is not a runaway favorite even with the home court advantage against Belarus. Behind Andy Roddick is the slumping Mardy "Silver" Fish, who holds a 3-4 career win-loss for the U.S. in singles, and Mike Bryan adds to the American's problems with his hip injury in the doubles with brother Bob.

The Bryan brothers are 3-0 career in Davis Cup doubles for the U.S.

Max "The Beast" Mirnyi will lead the Belarus upset attempt along with No. 2 Vladimir Voltchkov who has been almost nonexistent in ATP play this year. The Beast beat Marat Safin in an upset over Russia earlier this year in Cup play, but has struggled without a title in 2004.

This is the first meeting between the U.S. and Belarus.

France have their collective hands full with a trip to the red clay in Spain, where countries come in but don't come out with anything but an "L."

Either France or Spain have reached the Davis Cup final in each of the past five years.

Spain will go with the same team from their last tie in French Open champs Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero, and in doubles Tommy Robredo and Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal. France will sit the slumping and injured Sebastien Grosjean while likely playing Arnaud Clement and Paul-Henri Mathieu in singles, and Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro and Michael Llodra in doubles.

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Frenchman Julien Boutter is retiring after struggling with right shoulder problems. Boutter achieved a career-high ranking of No. 46 in 2002 and won one career title in Casablanca in 2003. "For three weeks I have not been able to train normally," Boutter told his hometown newspaper the Republican Lorrain. "In fact it's all over and I am happy about that. If tennis had been the only thing in my life it might have been tough."...Marat Safin vs. Mikhail Youzhny Sunday in Beijing was the first all-Russian final since Tashkent in 2001. Safin is 12-9 career in finals...Ricardo Mello "Yello" at Delray Beach is the ninth first-time title winner in 2004 after Antony Dupuis (Milan), Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson (Memphis), Vince Spadea (Scottsdale), Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco (Valencia), Filippo Volandri (St. Poelten), Santiago Ventura (Casablanca), Michael Llodra ('s-Hertogenbosch), and Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal (Sopot). Mello entered the US Open with a 1-4 record in 2004...The No. 1 seed is 0-3 in Delray Beach finals...A stone from the WTA Beijing preview: "(Svetlana) Kuznetsova will put her nine-match winning streak on the line..." Make that 11 matches...Marat Safin rose to No. 9 after the Beijing win on the ATP Rankings...Former Brit Davis Cup coach John Lloyd says "It is a very good shot that (US Open junior winner Andrew) Murray will play" for Britain in their Davis Cup qualifying match against Austria...Davis Cup qualifying matches this weekend for the World Group will be Australia hosting Morocco, Chile hosting Japan, Croatia hosting Belgium, Paraguay hosting Czech Republic, Slovak Republic hosting Germany, Austria hosting Great Britain, Romania hosting Canada, and Russia hosting Thailand...Apparently Hicham Arazi will not play for Morocco after asking too much money from the Moroccan Tennis Federation. Along with Younes El Aynaoui out with a foot injury, the super-low powered Moroccan squad will now be comprised of Mounir El Arej, Mehdi Tahiri, Mehdi Ziadi and Talal Ouhabi. Watch out Australia, who will now probably insert Todd Reid into their line-up for some experience...Vince Spadea is 1-3 in career finals.