Safin sails through to Bangkok second round
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:45
With nine first-round exits, Marat Safin’s final season probably hasn’t gone quite as he might have hoped.
But with the Paris Masters – expected to be the last event of his career – just over a month away, the Russian got off to a good start at the Thailand Open with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over No.5 seed Philipp Petzschner.
The Russian, twice a semi-finalist at the Bangkok event, will face Marco Chiudinelli in the second round, hoping to post consecutive wins for just the third time in 2009.
But fellow retiree Fabrice Santoro, who will also retire in Paris, saw three match points slip from his grasp against Evgeny Korolev, going down 4-6 7-6(4) 7-6(7).
Fomer US and Australian Open champion Safin avenged last year’s first round defeat at the hands of Petzschner, hitting seven aces and converting four of 10 break points to seal the win.
And after avoiding a tenth first-round defeat for the year, Safin restated his desire to walk away from tennis in November.
“I’ve achieved what I want to achieve, I want to continue with doing something else. I’ve decided I want to do something else, which is, I think, fair enough.
“I want to get out a little bit of tennis scene and try something completely different. I have plenty of time to think about it.”
But No.7 seed Santoro, who played his first Challenger event in 1988, lost to an opponent born that same year as Korolev’s firepower from the back of the court kept him in a tight match before delivering the win.
“I was expecting to do better this week,” said Santoro, “But if I play as well as I did today, I will win some matches.
“The court is slow and suited to his game. he could hit hard without many mistakes,” added the 36-year-old. “He was missing a lot in the first set, but the second got a lot better. The third was the best of all.
“I have four tournaments to go and I want to do well. My desire is still just as strong on the court, but it’s off the court where it’s not the same.
“I don’t train as much as I used to. I’d rather spend time with friends or at home than go to the gym. But I still go out to try and win every match.
“On the court there is no difference at all in my attitude.”
Jurgen Melzer is also through to the second round after beating Marcos Daniel 6-3 6-2, while Andreas Beck beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 7-5 7-6(1).
Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan, world No.174, upset Benjamin Becker 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3 to win only the second ATP match of his career after reaching the second round of the US Open last month with a win over Christophe Rochus.