Safin signs off
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:55
The fiery Russian announced earlier this year he would be bringing to an end a 12-year career that has brought him two grand slam titles and the world number one ranking.
Safin, a three-time champion in Paris, was presented with a souvenir trophy and then addressed the crowd, saying: “It’s a very special moment. I’m happy to get through to the second round and play Del Potro, I hope he’s going to do well here. He’s confident now because of me so if he’s going to win it he can send me some prize money!”
He added: “This is the day where all my memories will be in one box. I’m closing one door, hopefully another door will be opened.”
Wednesday’s match saw flashes of Safin at his brilliant best, and he fought impressively to take the second set, but there were also too many mistakes as fifth seed Del Potro booked his place in round three.
The crowd were behind the wild card throughout the match and, after a hug from Del Potro across the net, a host of Safin’s current and former rivals came out on court to pay tribute to the Muscovite.
In other matches, third seed Novak Djokovic saved two sets points against Juan Monaco on his way to a 6-3 7-5 victory.
The Serb, who beat Roger Federer in the final of the world number one’s home-town event in Basle on Sunday, looked a little jaded and appeared in trouble at 2-5 in the second set. But Monaco squandered two set points on his opponent’s serve and five games in a row gave Djokovic victory.
Robin Soderling kept alive his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP Tour Finals later this month with a 6-4 7-6 (8/6) victory over giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
The Swede must overhaul either Fernando Verdasco or Nikolay Davydenko to qualify for the prestigious eight-man tournament.