Safin Wins Mallorca Open
PALMA DE MALLORCA, Balearic Islands (AP) _ Marat Safin has changed coaches and his mind. Playing tennis isn’t so bad after all.
The Russian, who was close to quitting the sport earlier this year, won his second consecutive tournament title Sunday, beating Sweden’s Mikael Tillstrom 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the $475,000 Mallorca Open.
Last week, Safin won the Seat Godo Open in Barcelona, Spain.
After being unable to win in the first three months of this year, he was at the verge of quitting the sport altogether. But he changed coaches just before Barcelona, and with new coach Andrei Chesnokov has won his last two tournaments.
Against Tillstrom, Safin gained confidence when he won the first set, then routed his Swedish foe in the final set of a match that took less than an hour.
``The serve of Safin was too powerful″, said Tillstrom. ``The worse thing is to receive his serve, and although I had a pair of opportunities in the first set, it was impossible.″
Safin’s appearance in the final at Palma’s specially adapted bullring came one year after he was knocked out of the same tournament in the first round.
``Some months ago nobody was remembering me and I was about to leave it and get into other things because I am young and I can learn,″ said Safin. ``That’s why I can’t say that I will be the No. 1 in the future. It’s something unpredictable.″