Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Lowly Whitehouse tanks Safin in spectacular style

AFP , INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Wesley Whitehouse of South Africa returns a shot to Marat Safin of Russia during the Indianapolis Open on Wednesday at the Indianapolis Tennis Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

PHOTO: AFP

Marat Safin crashed out of the ATP Indianapolis Open in spectacular style on Wednesday, falling in straight sets to world No. 512 Wesley Whitehouse of South Africa.

Safin, the two-time Grand Slam champion from Russia, held his head in his hands as he tried to explain what when wrong in a 6-1, 6-4, second-round loss to the 27-year-old journeyman, who has won only two matches this season at the ATP level.

"I never felt comfortable on the court. He played well, and I was never in the match," said Safin, a former world No. 1.

Whitehouse, who made a charity hospital visit for the tournament a few hours before his match, called the win "the biggest of my career."

"I returned really well and put pressure on him from the beginning. That was my game plan from the start. You never know with him, he can play really well or really badly," he said.

With the win, Whitehouse booked another big match, a third round clash with top-seeded American James Blake.

Blake, who had a first-round bye, finally earned a victory at the tournament after three first-round defeats dating to 2000, ousting Thai Danai Udomchoke 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Meanwhile Safin was left still seeking signs of decisive progress in the wake of a knee injury that sidelined him from last summer until February.

He dropped to 12-12 for the season, with his last victory a first-round Wimbledon win against Greg Rusedski.

Two more Russians advanced as Igor Kunitsyn ousted Germany's Lars Burgsmuller 7-5, 6-2 and seventh-seeded Dmitry Tursunov advanced when German Benjamin Becker quit with heat exhaustion. Tursunov led 6-3, 5-7, 2-1 when Becker called it a day.

Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan claimed a battling 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 win over Aussie Wayne Arthurs to reach the third round, the eighth seed relieved to go through in a contest which revolved entirely around serve.

The winner, who was runner-up to Andy Roddick here in 2003, fired 16 aces while big-hitting Arthurs rained down a massive 29.

Patty Schnyder has reached the quarter-finals of the US$175,000 WTA tournament with a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory over US qualifier Abigail Spears on Wednesday.

Schnyder, the top seed and defending champion, rebounded from a close call in the first round, in which she had to save a match point as she rallied to win in a third-set tiebreaker against American Lilia Osterloh.

Schnyder clearly wasn't going to cut it so close again and needed just 53 minutes to advance to a quarter-final clash with India's Sania Mirza, a 6-1, 0-6, 6-1 winner over Finland's Emma Laine.

"I knew I had to work on some things after the first match," said Schnyder, who is seeking her first tournament title since her win here last year.

"I really didn't expect such a big difference in my level of play after just one day," she said.

Mirza's triumph in the see-saw battle with Laine saw her reach her first quarter-final of the year.

US veteran Amy Frazier posted a 6-3, 6-1 upset of eighth-seeded Gisela Dulko of Argentina.

She will face a countrywoman in the quarter-finals, either Serena Williams or Bethanie Mattek.

Injury-hit Williams, the former world number one and seven-time Grand Slam champion, played her first match in six months on Tuesday and looked like she had never been away as she brushed aside second seed Anastasia Myskina of Russia 6-2, 6-2.

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