Thursday, October 8, 2009
BEIJING - Marat Safin sets up Nadal quarterfinal showdown, Is he saving the best for last?
Former world number 1, Marat Safin, who is retiring from tennis end of this season, posted a fantastic 6-3, 6-4, victory over seventh-seed, Fernando Gonzalez, in the China Open second round on Thursday, to book himself a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Russian who is currently at 59 in the world rankings, had lost his last 4 matches to Gonzalez in straight sets, had not won back-to-back matches since July in Los Angeles (a feat he only managed to achieve only one other time this season, back in the Aussie Open), and was 0 in 6 against top 20 players this season heading into this match. So you can imagine my disbelief when I saw Safin (recently know as Mr. Meltdown) closing out this match in utter confidence.
Safin, who won the title in Beijing in 2004 on his sole other appearance in the Chinese capital, served 12 aces against Gonzalez and served a healthy 62% first serves in. I don't think I've seen Safin play this loosely all year. He was focused, confident and calm against the Chilean; something very refreshing to see although it's kind of sad to see this sharp form from Safin only a few weeks away from his retirement.
I can't wait to see this match. I'll definitely be rooting for both and I really hope it'll be a tight one. Any chance Marat still has some fight in him for this one??! We find out Friday.
Other Friday quarterfinal matchups include Fernando Verdasco  vs Novak Djokovic  and Nikolay Davydenko  vs Marin Cilic .