Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Russian ends losing streak with first win in two months


Safin beats Novak

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - Marat Safin's career has been defined by ups and downs. On Monday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, he climbed a small hill.

Agassi
Andre Agassi returns in the third set against Mardy Fish during first round play at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.
(Craig Ruttle/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
More photos from Monday

TENNIS COVERAGE
Mason showcases stars
Agassi wins after vow to go down swinging
Relaxed Federer has tight grip on top spot
French champ seeks success on hard courts
Haas reaches goals as quickly as he sets them
Injured Clijsters joins fiance Hewitt at tourney
Russian ends losing streak with first win in two months
Fish's bad back serves up another loss
Masters results, schedules

Safin broke a four-match losing streak by defeating Jiri Novak 6-3, 6-0 in the last match of the afternoon on Center Court. In one of the quickest matches of the day, he downed Novak in just 50 minutes. He will play again Wednesday against the winner of today's Jurgen Melzer/Jeff Morrison match.

"I played like I had nothing to lose," Safin said. "I was running, I was fighting. And then he didn't play really well. ... He couldn't find himself."

There have been plenty of times in the past few years where Safin was the one in search of a turnaround. After dominating Pete Sampras to win the 2000 U.S. Open - one of seven singles titles that year - Safin has won three titles since. He struggled with injuries last year and finished No. 77.

This year, the 24-year-old Russian has been trying to regain his place. At the beginning of the season, he made the finals of the Australian Open and then in Estoril. But an exit in the round of 16 at the French Open, partially because of hand blisters, set off his summer losing streak in Halle, at Wimbledon and in Toronto. He still came to Cincinnati ranked 14th.

"(The losing streak) was a little disappointing. I had a lot of chances, and I couldn't take them," Safin said. "(This win) is very important to get some matches and start to win. ... To get my confidence back and start believing in myself."

Safin is maybe most well-known for his racket-tossing, colorful remarks and reactions and, most recently, his mooning the crowd at this year's French Open (for which he was penalized a point). But it's those types of expressions that keep him going through his bumpy career.

"Sometimes you're losing matches and having a difficult time. You have to somehow entertain yourself and the people around you," Safin said. "I'm trying to have a good time because it's a really tough job. With all the hotel rooms and every time it's a different city. Sometimes it gets a little annoying. You have to cheer yourself up."

And Monday was a start.

"It was good, the first win in two months, so I was really happy," Safin said. "I was a little nervous in the beginning, but then I started to feel better and better."




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TENNIS
Mason showcases stars
Photos from Monday
Agassi wins after vow to go down swinging
Relaxed Federer has tight grip on top spot
French champ seeks success on hard courts
Haas reaches goals as quickly as he sets them
Injured Clijsters joins fiance Hewitt at tourney
Russian ends losing streak with first win in two months
Fish's bad back serves up another loss
Masters results, schedules

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