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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-29-2003, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Hewitt Says Schedule Hurt Safin

Hewitt Says Schedule Hurt Safin

By Alberto Amalfi

Marat Safin entered the U.S. Open as one of only three former men’s champions and exited the event before he struck a single shot. The nagging wrist injury that has plagued Safin for much of the season knocked him out of the Open, but 2001 U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt said today an extensive schedule may have contributed to Safin’s chronic injury problems.

"I think at the end of the day, you look at how many matches he had to play last year," Hewitt said. "I lost to him in the Paris final, he played incredible tennis, had to fly straight off to Shanghai, he plays in the Masters Cup, has to fly back to Paris to play in the Davis Cup final on a totally different surface. That takes a lot out of you both physically and mentally."

The Wimbledon winner joined the chorus of champions calling for revisions in the ATP calendar.
"I think there’s got to be a way that the ATP or the ITF or everyone has to sit down and work it out and get the (right) schedule," Hewitt said. "I think the reason I got the chickenpox at the end of 2001 was because I was run down from playing so many matches and a Davis Cup final."

Wrestling with the wrist injury that has sidelined him for Roland Garros, Wimbledon and now the U.S. Open, Safin sounds like a man prepared to write off the rest of an injury-shortened season.

"It's all open, I don't know," Safin said of a time table for his return. "It depends on the doctor. I have to find a solution. Anyway it's the end of the season, so I need to find out and be prepared for the next season."

It has been a disappointing descent for a player who appeared destined for dominance when he stormed through the 2000 season seizing an ATP-best seven tournament titles. Safin delivered a dazzling display of championship tennis in crushing Pete Sampras to capture the 2000 U.S. Open crown as he became the youngest man to finish No. 2 since a 19-year-old Boris Becker in 1986. Since that sustained season of brilliance, Safin has won exactly three titles in 30 months. But Hewitt believes Safin, when healthy, is still one of the best players in the sport.

"In my opinion, he’s one of the best players around when he’s on," Hewitt said. "He has the perfect physique for tennis. I think he’s got every shot in the game."

Marat Safin - always the one and only
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