Safin Wins Paris, Euro Series Crown; Mauresmo Closer to No. 1 With Philly Win

Posted on November 8, 2004

Volatile Safin Keeps Temper in Check for Masters Series Paris Win

Marat Safin kept his fragile temper in check long enough to win his third title of the year Sunday at the Masters Series-Paris with a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek.

All three of the Russian's titles have come after the US Open in a late-season surge that has seen the Russian qualify for the Masters Cup and win the inaugural Tennis-X Euro Series. It was also the second consecutive Masters Series title for Safin after Madrid.

"I didn't have a great middle of the year, but finally success is coming again at last," said Safin, who joined Boris Becker as the only two players to win three career Paris-indoor titles. "Coming to Paris, in winter and the summer, is always one the great experiences in my life and the crowds here keep tennis alive...For some reason for me it's a problem to play in the middle of the season. You know, the tournaments in the States, where I really have to do well, and probably for some reason I put too much pressure on myself. And then at the end of the year, basically I have nothing to lose, and I just let it go and I'm playing great tennis."

Safin's hold on his temper started to unravel in the second set, but the Russian came back from 2-4 in the tiebreak to clinch the second, then cruised in the third.

"There were too many unforced errors for me," said Stepanek, who committed well over double that of Safin. "But Marat plays very fast from the back of the court making it very hard to get to his groundstrokes. I gave everything I had, but it just wasn't enough."

In the doubles final, in a preview of the Masters Cup Doubles, (3) Jonas Bjorkman/Todd Woodbridge won their third title of the year in their fifth final, blowing by unseeded Zimbabweans Byron Black/Kevin Ullyett 6-3, 6-4 in approximately an hour.

Mauresmo Wins Philadelphia, Closes on No. 1 Davenport

Amelie Mauresmo has tasted No. 1, but now wants to put her stamp on the history books as a coveted year-end No. 1 finisher.

Sunday at Philadelphia the Frenchwoman fought off an advance from fellow WTA Championships qualifier Vera "The Crying Game" Zvonareva, coming back from a set down to beat the No. 6-seeded Russian 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

"I wanted to take control of the game and make her play," said Mauresmo on coming back from a set down. "I was reading her game much better, moving much better. I also was able to pump myself up. I felt really fresh when she started to go down physically a little bit. That helped a lot."

Mauresmo rose to No. 1 in September, but soon lost the top ranking to current No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.

It was the fifth title of the year for Mauresmo, tying her with the inactive Justine Henin-Hardenne, and leaving her two titles behind the leader Davenport.

In the doubles final (3) Molik/Raymond defeated (4) Huber/Morariu 7-5, 6-4 for their first title as a team. It was the fifth career Philly doubles title for Raymond.

Sucha Wins First 2004 Title at WTA Quebec City

Martina Sucha outlasted American qualifier Abigail Spears 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to win her second career title, and first of the year Sunday at the WTA stop in Quebec City.

"We both were very tired from the tough matches that we had this week," Sucha said. "This one had a lot of rallies, but she had more matches, so she may have been more tired. I'm so happy to have been able to win this one in my last event of the year."

Spears, in her first career WTA final, is projected to break the Top 100 for the first time. Sucha entered the event ranked No. 72.

In the doubles final the unseeded American/Argentine duo of Gullickson/Salerni upset (2) Callens/Stosur 7-5, 7-5 for their first title as a team.

Safin Runs Away With Inaugural Euro Series Title

With David Nalbandian's injury pull-out from the Masters Series-Paris this week, Marat Safin was assured the Euro Series title, with even first-round losing points enough to overtake the Argentine.

Instead, Safin responded by winning the MS-Paris, and becoming the first champion of the Euro Series, joining Lleyton Hewitt who won the inaugural US Open Series leading to the US Open.

For his effort Safin receives the $25.00 (USD) grand prize, and 50 percent of the Euro Series fan-funded prize fund, which results in a substantial $39.00 added to the Russian's 2004 prize total. The second-place finisher Nalbandian receives $10.00 plus 30 percent of the prize fund for a total of $18.40.

Another Russian took third place in Mikhail Youzhny, who put in a quarterfinal effort at the MS-Paris to edge finalist Radek Stepanek, who for his fourth place Euro Series finish receives absolutely nothing but a handshake. Youzny for his third place effort receives $5.50 plus 20 percent of the prize fund, equaling a nice take-home sum of $11.10.

The remainder of the Top 10 final Euro Series Standings were No. 5 Feliciano "F-Lo" Lopez, No. 6 Guillermo Canas, No. 7 Robin Soderling, No. 8 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 9 Andre Agassi, and No. 10 Tommy Haas.

"The whole Euro Series went pretty much as envisioned, with our strategy to stay under the media radar, but at the same time to reward the players, and the fans," said Tennis-X CEO Luke Johnson. "The spotlight shone brightly on these European indoor events. For next year we are already planning a greatly increased number of model ball-girls, this time clothes optional. You could never get away with that in the U.S., another plus for the Euro Series."

The nine events that comprised the Tennis-X Euro Series in 2004 were the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon (France), the BA-CA Tennis Trophy (Vienna, Austria), the Open de Maselle (Metz, France), the Kremlin Cup (Moscow, Russia), the Masters Series-Madrid (Spain), the Davidoff Swiss Indoors (Basel, Switzerland), the if...Stockholm Open (Sweden), the St. Petersburg Open (Russia), and the Masters Series-Paris (France), all leading to the season-ending Masters Cup in Houston.

The checks, as they say, are in the mail.

"We'd like to thank everyone for their support of the Euro Series," said Johnson, who will preside at the award ceremony at the Masters Cup. "We figure, with the center court security guards changing shifts at 2:30 p.m. every day at the Masters Cup, we have a five-minute window to get Marat quickly out for the trophy presentation. You're going to see one big cardboard check and one happy Russian."

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Jim Courier
won the senior stop in Brussels over the weekend, edging Guy Forget in the final 2-6, 7-6(3), 10-5 (Champions Tiebreak). "I thought I was playing really well coming into the match but Guy was serving so big there in the first set and I started a little slow," Courier said. "He was playing a really smart match -- keeping the ball low on me, and sometimes with my extreme grips on a fast court, it makes life difficult. In the end I just got through the tiebreak in the second set, and got through the Champions' Tiebreak with some good serving -- that was the key for me." The final senior tour event is 'The Masters Tennis' in London beginning Nov. 30...Amelie Mauresmo is the only non-Russian or non-American in the WTA Championships field...The WTA Championships begin Wednesday, and the Masters Cup Saturday (doubles, singles begin Monday)...Peter McNamara, Mark Philippoussis' former coach talking to The Age: "He's got two months to work really hard fitness-wise, practice-wise and get a routine, and get back to that culture he had when he was younger, when he was on the court serving for two or three hours and practicing for four hours. It's a bit scary for him, but the year is over. Put it behind you and go back and do what you did in the Davis Cup. His career has been dogged by injury and all sorts of things -- his private life, everyone seems to know about it and maybe tennis has not been his priority. He just needs to revamp the way he's looking at tennis and make sure tennis comes first."...Marat Safin on competing with Roger Federer in 2005: "Nobody really looks forward to playing against Federer, under any circumstances, because the way he's playing right now, this year, is way too good. He was very solid, very stable, and he just was much better than other players -- much, much better. Even (Andy) Roddick, although he improved a lot, he couldn't do much against Federer. Roddick played three, four finals this year, and Federer beat him quite easily. You have to be in really good condition to beat Roger. Next year, I will try to do my best and try to compete with him. That will be quite an effort for me."...Guillermo "El Fragile" Coria has hired Spain's Josep Perlas as his 239th coach. Perlas, who has also worked with Al Costa and Carlos Moya, still works with the Spanish Davis Cup team...Belgian papers are reporting rumors of Kim Clijsters hanging around with 18-year-old ATP Spaniard Pablo Andujar...Todd Woodbridge has now won seven of the nine Masters Series titles in doubles, missing only Rome and Canada...Canon will announce that beginning next year, Maria Sharapova will appear in ads as the "global face for Canon's entire line of products -- from digital cameras to office copiers."...Australia will put Austria on grass for their March Davis Cup match-up...As of Monday the crack WTA web staff still has the "Two Spots Left, Four Big Contenders" graphic on the WTA website. Time for the monthly update...WTA Championship groups: Black Group: Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva. Red Group: Lindsay Davenport, Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Serena Williams