Wednesday, June 25, 2008

He's Back!!!!! Safin Trumps Djokovic in Wimbledon !!

He's finally back... Former world number one, two-time Grand Slam champion and one of the most charismatic players on tour, Marat Safin, managed to pull off a major upset at the All England Club on Wednesday when he eliminated one of the tournament's main contenders for the title, Novak Djokovic, in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.

This is only the third time this year that Safin has won back-to-back matches, while world number 3, Djokovic, has reached the semifinal stage or better in the last 5 Grand Slams.

An upbeat Safin showed up on court today and reminded us of his former glories. I don't know whether it was just a good mood, some extra focus, some new-found confidence or just an I've-got-nothing-to-lose attitude but the Russian stud stood his ground throughout the match as he outplayed a miserable Djokovic, whose serving killed him on most of the tricky moments.

For many people, Safin is long gone and will never come back, but I could never rule him out. The guy won 2 Grand Slams, 5 years apart. His last Grand Slam triumph saw him defeat Roger Federer in the semis, 9-7 in the fifth set, followed by a four-set drubbing of home favorite Lleyton Hewitt en route to lifting the 2005 Australian Open trophy.

Safin was then hampered by a knee injury and never seemed to regain his form ever since. His temperamental behaviour wasn't helping either and he was often accused that he just didn't care anymore. The 28-year-old did however respond to such accusations when he said:

"I had so many injuries. So it's not because I was scratching my things on the sofa and I didn't want to play tennis. It was because I've been sick...It's not like I was partying my ass off on South Beach, because I'm trying. It takes a lot of courage to try and still go on the court when you're ranked No. 85 in the world."

Well said Marat :D

Safin has the extra advantage now of a relatively smooth draw, especially that the highest 2 seeds in his quarter have already been sent packing, Djokovic and 7th-seed, David Nalbandian. He next faces Italy's Andreas Seppi and has a potential last-16 meeting with Swiss rising star, Stanislas Wawrinka (seeded 13).

Am sure Rafael Nadal now has extra appreciation for Safin, who has given Nadal a bit of a breather who now doesn't have Djokovic on his back fighting him for the number 1 and 2 spots in the rankings throughout the tournament. Djokovic will lose points because he failed to defend his semifinal showing he achieved last year, while Nadal has the far-fetched chance of becoming number one if he wins the title and Federer loses in the quarters.

Am getting way ahead of myself, so let's just wait and see... For now, am just hoping Safin wakes up in a good mood on Friday for his third round match.


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