Friday, February 18, 2011

Marat Safin

Marat Mikhailovich Safin (born January 27, 1980) is a former Russian tennis player. Safin won two majors and reached the world number 1 ranking during his career. He was also famous for his emotional outbursts and sometimes fiery temper on court. Safin is the older brother of former World No. 1 WTA player Dinara Safina (Dinara Mikhailovna Safina) (Russian: Динара Михайловна Сафина), born April 27, 1986 in Moscow. They are the first brother-sister tandem in tennis history to both achieve No. 1 rankings. Safin began his professional career in 1997, and held the No. 1 world ranking for a total of 9 weeks between November 2000 and April 2001. He won his first Grand Slam title at the 2000 U.S. Open after defeating Pete Sampras, and won the 2005 Australian Open, defeating Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the final. Safin helped lead Russia to Davis Cup victories in 2002 and 2006. Despite his dislike of grass courts, he became the first Russian man to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships. At the time of his final Grand Slam appearance at the US Open on 2 September 2009, Safin was No. 61 in the official world men's tennis rankings.

Safin was born in Moscow, USSR (now Russia), to Mikhail Alexeivich (Mubin Aliamtsevich) Safin and Rauza Islanova, an ethnic Tatar family. He speaks Russian, English, and Spanish as well as his native Tatar. His parents are former tennis players and coaches. His younger sister, Dinara Safina, is a professional tennis player and silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Safin's father managed the local Spartak Tennis Club, where Safin trained in his youth alongside several tennis players, including Anna Kournikova, Elena Dementieva, and Anastasiya Myskina. At age 14 he moved to Valencia, Spain, to gain access to advanced tennis training programs which were not available in Russia. Safin says he grew up "very fast ... with no muscles" and that he moved to Spain because clay courts were "better for the knees". Safin started his professional career in 1997. In 1998, Safin consecutively defeated Andre Agassi and defending champion Gustavo Kuerten at the French Open. He won his first ATP title at the age of 19, in Boston and later in 1999 he reached the prestigious Paris, Bercy final losing a closely contested 4 set match to Andre Agassi.


Marat Safin Video


Marat Safin Video

Safin held the No. 1 ATP ranking for 9 weeks during 2000 (making him the tallest number 1 ranked player of all time) when he won his first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open, becoming the only Russian in history to win this tournament in the Mens Singles draw, by defeating Pete Sampras in straight sets. However, a succession of injuries hindered his progress and Safin missed the majority of the season in 2003 as a result. Safin reached the final round in three more Grand Slam tournaments, all in the Australian Open in 2002, 2004, and 2005. He has cited nervousness as the reason for his loss in the 2002 event, and physical exhaustion for the 2004 loss. He defeated home-country favorite Lleyton Hewitt in the 2005 finals to secure his second Grand Slam in five years. En route to this final, he defeated top-ranked Roger Federer in a five-set semi-final match. After ending Federer's 26-match winning streak over top-10 players, Safin described the match as "a brain fight." His best result at Wimbledon is reaching the semi-finals in 2008 often losing in the first or second rounds in other years.

Safin has won five ATP Tennis Masters Series titles during his career. His first was in 2000 when he won the title in Toronto, Canada. He holds a record-tying three (2000, 2002, and 2004) wins in Paris, France, and one in 2004 in Madrid, Spain.In 2004, Safin reached the semifinal of the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston, where he was defeated by Roger Federer, 6–3, 7–6 (18). The second-set tiebreak (20–18) was the third-longest tiebreak in the Open Era. Safin also reached the semifinals in 2000 and 2002.Safin helped Russia achieve its first Davis Cup victory in 2002, with a 3–2 tie-breaking win against France in the final round at the Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy. His Russian team included Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mikhail Youzhny, Andrei Stoliarov, and team captain Shamil Tarpischev. The team made Davis Cup history by being the second to win the event after losing the doubles tie-breaker, and becoming the first team to win a (live-televised) five-set finals match by coming back from a two-set deficit. Safin also helped Russia to win the Davis Cup in 2006. After a straight sets defeat by David Nalbandian in his first match, his doubles victory (partnering Dmitry Tursunov) against Nalbandian and Agustín Calleri and singles victory against José Acasuso drove Russia to victory. Heavily favored Russia was hosted by Israel in a Davis Cup quarterfinal tie in July 2009, on indoor hard courts at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Russia had won the Davis Cup in both 2002 and 2006, and was the top-ranked country in Davis Cup standings. The stage was set by Safin, who prior to the tie told the press: "With all due respect, Israel was lucky to get to the quarterfinals." The Israeli team then beat the Russian team in each of their first three matches. Harel Levy (world # 210) beat Andreev (world # 24), and Dudi Sela (# 33) followed by beating Youzhny. The next day Israelis Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich beat Safin and doubles specialist Kunitsyn 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in front of a boisterous crowd of over 10,000. With the tie clinched for Israel, the reverse singles rubbers were "dead", and instead of best-of-five matches, best-of-three sets were played, with the outcomes of little to no importance. Israel wrapped up a 4-1 victory over Russia, splitting the final matches.

Although a serious knee-injury hampered Safin's progression and rankings within the ATP (he missed the 2005 US Open, 2005 Tennis Masters Cup and 2006 Australian Open), Safin made appearances at the 2006 ATP Masters tournaments at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome and Hamburg. On August 17, 2006, after a disappointing year during which Safin suffered injuries and his ranking plummeted to as low as 104, Safin temporarily parted ways with coach Peter Lundgren. After injuries set him back, Safin was ranked a lowly #104, his worst ranking since May, 1998. During his comeback at the 2006 US Open, Safin defeated Argentine David Nalbandian, who was then World #4, 6-3, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 7-6(8-6) in a riveting 2nd Round match. Unfortunately, Safin lost in the 4th Round to former world #2 German Tommy Haas, also in a 5th set tiebreaker, 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). Safin helped Russia beat the USA 3–2 to gain a place in the finals in December 2006, and secondly with a good run at the start of the indoor season the Thailand Open where he was narrowly edged out by #7 seed, James Blake. On October 14, 2006, Safin made it to his first final in a year-and-a-half at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, the first all Russian final at that event, losing to compatriot, Ukrainian born Nikolay Davydenko, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. On December 3, 2006, Safin defeated José Acasuso 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 7–6 (7-5) in the 5th and decisive rubber of the 2006 Davis Cup, winning the Davis Cup for Russia. He had previously lost 6–4, 6–4, 6–4 to David Nalbandian in his first match. In the doubles match, he teamed up with Dmitry Tursunov to demolish David Nalbandian and Agustín Calleri, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. 2006's Davis Cup final was played in Moscow on carpet, which suited both teams well; it gave Russia a slight edge as Argentina usually produces slower-court specialists (i.e. clay and slow hard). Winning the Davis Cup for his country capped off a successful year and comeback for Safin in 2006. His 7 wins (7-7 record that year) against top ten players (DEF: Baghdatis, Nalbandian, Roddick ,Blake, Gaudio, and Davydenko-twice) were fourth-most on the ATP tour behind just Federer, Nadal and Blake. Safin compiled a 19-12 record on hard courts, a 7-3 record on carpet courts, 6-7 record on clay courts and a 2-2 record on grass courts. Safin's overall match record for 2006 was 34-24.

Safin did not play any warm-up tournaments in the run up to the Australian Open. As Safin was forced to miss the tournament in 2006 due to injury, 2007 was his first Australian Open since he captured the title in 2005. Safin lost against 6th seed Andy Roddick in his third round match by a score of 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) in a grueling 3-hour match. Roddick commented after the match, "With Marat you know you are going to get an emotional roller-coaster. You just have to try and focus on yourself and I was able to do that tonight. In April, Safin won the deciding quarter-final Davis Cup rubber against France, beating Paul-Henri Mathieu in straight sets. Safin reached the third round at Wimbledon, before falling to the defending champion Roger Federer. In July, Safin announced that he and his coach Alexander Volkov were parting and that his new coach would be former pro Hernán Gumy. Safin won the doubles title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October, his first ATP-level title since the 2005 Australian Open. Safin prepared for the Australian Open at the invitational exhibition tournament, the AAMI Kooyong Classic in Melbourne. Other players in the field were Roddick, Fernando González, Nikolay Davydenko, Marcos Baghdatis, Ivan Ljubičić and Andy Murray. Safin was victorious in his opening match, defeating Andy Murray 6–1, 6–4 before falling to defeat in his second match to Andy Roddick 6–3, 6–3. In the 3rd place play-off, Safin rebounded from the Roddick loss and overpowered the prior year's Australian Open runner up Fernando González winning the match 6–3, 6–3. Safin won his first round match at the Australian Open against Ernests Gulbis in straight sets - 6–0, 6–4, 7–6 (2). He was ousted in the 2nd round after a grueling five set match against Baghdatis - 6–4, 6–4 2–6, 3–6, 6–2.

Ranked at No. 75, Safin entered the 2008 Wimbledon Championships where he defeated Fabio Fognini 6–1, 6–2, 7–6(3) in the first round. In the second round he defeated No. 3 player and 2008 Australian Open Champion Novak Djokovic 6–4, 7–6(3), 6–2. Safin's victory came as a shock as Djokovic was described as a "serious contender" to win the tournament.[33] In the third round, he played Italian Andreas Seppi (29th seed) and beat him 7–6, 3–6, 7–6, 6–4. In the Round of 16 came Stanislas Wawrinka who he defeated 6–4, 6–3, 5–7, 6–1. This was the first time he had reached the quarter-finals in a major tournament since the 2005 Australian Open. Safin went on to defeat Feliciano López 3–6, 7–5, 7–6(1), 6–3 in the quarterfinals to set up a semi-final clash with defending champion Roger Federer. Safin lost the match 6–3, 7–6(3), 6–4. His run to the semi-finals was his best record in Wimbledon and made him the first Russian man to ever reach a Wimbledon semi-final. Safin attributed his great run at wimbledon down to the hard work he was putting in with coach Hernan Gumy. Safin then played at the Swedish Open, on clay, in Båstad against Marc López, winning 7–6, 7–5 in the first round. He lost his second round match against Potito Starace. Safin was awarded a wild card into the Rogers Cup Masters tournament in Toronto. He played Sam Querrey in the first round, winning 6–3, 6–3. Due to rain delays, he had to play his next match against Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka on the same day. He lost that match 6–3, 6–4. Safin was seeded fifth for his next tournament, the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles. He defeated Americans John Isner 6–3, 6–4 and Wayne Odesnik 6–3, 6–2 in the first and second rounds respectively to advance to the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Denis Gremelmayr 3–6, 6–3, 6–2.

Safin started the 2009 season by playing in the Hopman Cup event in Perth with his sister, Dinara Safina. He arrived at the event sporting a bandaged right thumb, two black eyes, a blood-filled left eye, and a cut near his right eye, all suffered in a fight several weeks earlier in Moscow. In the 2009 Hopman Cup, the pair played off in the final representing Russia, but each was defeated in the singles rubbers. Safin said he had decided to play the 2009 season due to a great offer from his manger Ion Tiriac, he made this decision despite not having a coach. Safin withdrew from the Kooyong Classic tournament due to a shoulder injury, but recovered to play his first round Australian Open match, which he won in straight sets over Ivan Navarro of Spain. In the second round, Safin defeated another Spanish player, Guillermo García López. In the third round he came up against Roger Federer and lost in straight sets, however, Federer himself acknowledged that Safin's level of play in the third set, which went to a tiebreak, was great. His next tournament was the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. He exited in the 1st round to Richard Gasquet, and exited in the semi-finals in doubles with David Ferrer. In March Safin helped Russia advance to the Davis Cup quarter-finals by beating Victor Crivoi of Romania in the first rubber in straight sets. Starting the year at 29 in the world, he placed in the top 20 during the year, for the first time since the end of January 2006. His doubles ranking also improved from 300 to 195. In the first round at Wimbledon, at which he was seeded #14, he was upset by 21-year-old Jesse Levine of the U.S., 6–2, 3–6, 7–6 (4), 6–4.

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