Fri, Jul 31, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Overworked Safin reaches quarter-finals at LA Open

AP , LOS ANGELES

Elena Dementieva of Russia prepares to return to compatriot Maria Kirilenko at the Bank of the West tennis tournament in Stanford, California, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Marat Safin, playing for the fourth time in three days, summoned enough energy to beat Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the LA Open on Wednesday.

Safin, who played an exhibition match against Pete Sampras on Monday and beat Robby Ginepri the following night, also teamed with Igor Kunitsyn to win a first-round doubles on Monday.

“It was different conditions,” the 29-year-old Safin said after advancing to his third straight Los Angeles quarter-final. “It was during the day, so it’s completely opposite the night. The balls are flying much more so it’s tough to really control them and it takes some time to get used to it. I was a little bit slow at the beginning of the match.”

The win over Gulbis put the two-time Grand Slam champion into his first quarter-finals of the year and earned him at least a day off from singles play.

The grind is a big reason why Safin says he will retire at the end of this season.

“There are so many [other] things to do. I need some vacation, take half a year just to relax and realize that I’m not anymore a ­tennis player and to understand that there is life afterward,” he said. “I need to relax. There was so much stress throughout the years. There is no matches, there is no more match points, there is no more deuces, there is no more second serves. It’s a different way of thinking and I need to take some time off to really understand it.”

In the quarter-finals, Safin will meet top seed Tommy Haas of Germany, who defeated Jesse Levine 6-1, 6-3 in the final singles match Wednesday night.

Also advancing to the quarter-finals was John Isner of the US, who overcame an injury late in the second-set tiebreaker to beat Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 7-6 (11). Australian qualifier Carsten Ball moved on with a 6-4, 1-0 victory over No. 3 seed Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, who was unable to continue in the second set due to a left ankle injury.

Isner twisted his left ankle and collapsed on the court after trying to reverse direction on a forehand that gave Baghdatis an 11-10 lead in the tiebreaker.

■ CROATIA OPEN

AP, STANFORD, CALIFORNIA

Elena Dementieva and Russian compatriot Maria Sharapova won through to the quarter-finals of the WTA’s Bank of the West Classic with identical 6-1, 6-2 scorelines on Wednesday.

The third-seeded Dementieva breezed past Russian Maria Kirilenko, while Sharapova had a surprisingly comfortable win over fifth-seeded Nadia Petrova in another all-Russian match.

In other results on Wednesday, Slovakia’s Daniel Hantuchova ousted seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 in a tight battle, while Australia’s Sam Stosur downed Romania’s Monica Niculescu 6-1, 7-5.

Britain’s Anne Keothavong, who left her doubles match after crashing into a fence on Tuesday night, is out for the rest of the season. Tests on Wednesday morning revealed a severe left knee sprain.

■CROATIA OPEN

AP, UMAG, CROATIA

Top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko continued his winning streak by beating Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Croatia Open on Wednesday.

He next plays Alberto Martin of Spain, who defeated Slovakian qualifier Martin Klizan 6-4, 6-4.

Second-seeded David Ferrer of Spain squandered a 6-1, 5-3 lead before defeating Daniel Koellerer of Austria, 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3, but third-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia — a semi-finalist in Umag in 2007 — lost to Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6).

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