Another classic from Mal: Safin 's legs won't hold against Agassi

01-28-2004, 12:31 PM
By MaliVai Washington
Special to

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Year after year, it seems like Andre Agassi goes into a major and somehow manages to play less tennis than everyone else in the draw.

This year's Australian Open is no exception. Agassi is playing very good tennis, but he hasn't been tested yet. His semifinal opponent, Marat Safin, on the other hand, managed to go four or five sets in each of his five matches.

One of the challenges for Safin in this semfinal match will be his legs. How well will he recover after his five-set victory against Andy Roddick? The tennis Safin played Tuesday night showed he's as good as any top-five player in the world. The question now is whether his legs are strong enough to withstand the running he's going to do against Agassi.

Against Roddick, Safin opted to stay on the baseline, but there might not be any player who can beat Agassi from the baseline on Rebound Ace.

From Agassi's standpoint, he'll be hoping that this semifinal is played in the heat of the day. Hailing from the desert, Agassi admits he loves playing in hot, humid conditions because he knows he can physically outlast any opponent.

The key for Safin will be his serve. If he serves well, protecting it as he did against Roddick, he'll have his one and only chance.

There just seems to be too many factors against Safin winning this match, so expect Agassi to win it in four sets.

MaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.

It's a night match...... :o

01-28-2004, 12:41 PM
Yep, it's a night match, and if Safin can win enough cheap points on his serve and finish points quickly he has a chance. That's a very big if, of course, but it's amazing to think that these two haven't played in over three years (the last time at Lisbon being the only one when Safin was really a top player and in his best career form).

I'm not sure I agree about the baseliner statement either - Sampras, Agassi's all-time nemesis, played him twice here and lost, whereas look at the similarities between the three who have beaten him at the AO - Chang and Spadea are the classic American hustlers and grinders, while Berasetegui was nicknamed the Little Matador for his fighting spirit. Of course, Safin doesn't have the same counterpunching style, but he's still a class opponent.

01-28-2004, 01:12 PM
Safin could totally beat Agassi. He's Marat Safin, for god's sake!

I agree that all the time spent on the court could hurt Safin, but if he can keep from being run around the court chasing balls, he has a shot.

Hopefully Andre will play up to his usual high standard.


Tennis Fool
01-28-2004, 02:34 PM
He just needs a beer beforehand. He'll be okay ;)

01-28-2004, 02:38 PM
Marat can definitely beat Agassi, but it will be tough. He'll need to make sure there is a lot of variation in his game, so that he stands a chance. Once Agassi gets going, he'll be hard to stop.

01-28-2004, 02:39 PM
I think Andre will win in straight sets, but Safin definitely has a chance if he plays well and maybe Andre has an off day, like he had against Nalbandian in Kooyong. But Andre will try to exploit Safin's tiredness by moving him around as much as possible and I'd give him the edge if the match goes the distance. Whatever the result, Marat has already had a great tournament anyway, and a great start to his comeback year.

01-28-2004, 05:34 PM
Safin could totally beat Agassi. He's Marat Safin, for god's sake!

a classic argument already!! you crack me up time and again MisterQ, thanks for making my day (oh no wait, Marat will do that)

01-28-2004, 06:40 PM
128 W Mariano PUERTA (ARG) 6-2 6-2 6-3
64 W Sjeng SCHALKEN (NED) 7-5 6-0 6-3
32 W Mariano ZABALETA (ARG) 6-4 6-4 6-2
16 W Mark PHILIPPOUSSIS (AUS) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3
QF W Hicham ARAZI (MAR) 6-4 6-4 6-2
SF W Pete SAMPRAS (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-7(0) 7-6(5) 6-1
FR W Yevgeny KAFELNIKOV (RUS) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-4

128 W Jiri VANEK (CZE) 6-0 7-5 6-3
64 W Paul GOLDSTEIN (USA) 6-1 6-3 6-1
32 W David PRINOSIL (GER) 7-6(11) 5-0 Retired
16 W Andrew ILIE (AUS) 6-7(1) 6-3 6-0 6-3
QF W Todd MARTIN (USA) 7-5 6-3 6-4
SF W Patrick RAFTER (AUS) 7-5 2-6 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3
FR W Arnaud CLEMENT (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-2

128 W Brian VAHALY (USA) 7-5 6-3 6-3
64 W Hyung-Taik LEE (KOR) 6-1 6-0 6-0
32 W Nicolas ESCUDE (FRA) 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-4
16 W Guillermo CORIA (ARG) 6-1 3-1 Retired
QF W Sebastien GROSJEAN (FRA) 6-3 6-2 6-2
SF W Wayne FERREIRA (RSA) 6-2 6-2 6-3
FR W Rainer SCHUETTLER (GER) 6-2 6-2 6-1

128 W Todd LARKHAM (AUS) 6-1 6-3 6-4
64 W Tomas BERDYCH (CZE) 6-0 6-2 6-4
32 W Thomas ENQVIST (SWE) 6-0 6-3 6-3
16 W Paradorn SRICHAPHAN (THA) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4
QF W Sebastien GROSJEAN (FRA) 6-2 2-0 Retired

That's the list of Agassi's 26 straight victories. And the list of his opponents at last three AOs is hardly impressive. In fact, Marat is the first quality opponent Agassi faces since AO-2000.

SanTaureau Fan
01-28-2004, 06:49 PM
The title is wrong, nowhere in the article Mal says that "Safin 's legs won't hold against Agassi".

Tennis Fool
01-28-2004, 08:19 PM
YS: So you think Marat has the edge because Agassi hasn't had any quality opponents?

01-28-2004, 08:41 PM
That's the list of Agassi's 26 straight victories. And the list of his opponents at last three AOs is hardly impressive. In fact, Marat is the first quality opponent Agassi faces since AO-2000.

Patrick Rafter is not a quality opponent?

If you look at the scores you will see that Andre did not just get lucky and "sneak through" the draw.

Anyway, I won't deny that 2003 was a pretty easy draw in particular. But Grosjean and Escude can be dangerous. And it's not AA's fault that the other "top players" couldn't hack it...

01-28-2004, 09:09 PM
As happy as I am for Marat's come back performance in this tournament, I have to agree with Mal on this call. (I can't imagine why Mal thought this might be a day match.) This is a tall, tall order for Marat. I will be ecstatic if he pulls off a win here! But, at this point it doesn't look likely. Go Marat!! :) :D

J. Corwin
01-28-2004, 09:35 PM
Marat has to come out confident, believing in himself, and going for his shots. Not for one moment can he let stuff get to his head.

01-29-2004, 04:07 AM
Rogi has just proved the prediction vs Nalby wrong, now it's your turn Marat.

Action Jackson
01-29-2004, 04:12 AM
Marat needs to serve well and make sure his backhand down the line is working well, as Nalbandian has shown that works well agianst Agassi, also he definitely needs to vary the spins and try and bring Agassi forward. I hope he can knock the Bald eagle of his perch.

01-29-2004, 04:14 AM
I guess at the bottom of all this I'm just glad for Safin's re-emergence. I'm glad for his newly instilled self-belief, his new perspective on tennis and just trying as hard as possible every match. And you know, I think that's going to bring him far this year, and bring him to the rankings he deserves to be. I'm so proud and happy at the fact he's made it to the semis, and these weren't just easy matches in the slightest - he fought for them and deservedly won them. And win or lose against Agassi, I still think he's done a fabulous job. (Unless of course, Agassi wins something like 6-0, 6-1, 6-2).....

01-29-2004, 04:16 AM
I agree with your analysis regarding the backhand down the line, GWH. Agassi's "percentage tennis" assumes that a player won't be able to execute that shot often enough to hurt him. If Marat can do it, he has a chance at the win.

Hopefully Marat will not log in to check this advice before the match... ;)

01-29-2004, 04:47 AM
YS: So you think Marat has the edge because Agassi hasn't had any quality opponents?

No, I am just saying that Agassi is not invincible and quite overrated on the surface.

01-29-2004, 04:49 AM
Patrick Rafter is not a quality opponent?

Rafter _WAS_ a quality opponent, who was handling Agassi pretty well, even though playing on one of his worst surfaces, until his usual cramp attack happened, which he always had lately in best-of-five matches.

01-29-2004, 06:09 AM
Can I just mention that if Agassi wins this AO at age 34 (unheard of in todays era) by beating top players in their prime such as Safin, Ferrero or Federer then it will be one of the greatest accomplishments in the open era.

Having said that I stick with my pre tournament prediction that Andre wont make the final.

Action Jackson
01-29-2004, 06:24 AM
Hopefully you are right Wyver.

01-29-2004, 06:24 AM
I only saw probably 30 mins of Safin vs Roddick, I must say Safin really looked great out there. Nobody can underestimate Andre chances here but I feel that all the other 3 sfinalists have great chances vs Andre this year. Ferrero's win vs Andre in last year US left a huge impression on me, similarly for Federer's in Houston final and Safin...he just seems to be really determine. I think at least they will be going into the match knowing they can match up very well with Andre.

I guess I will be impress with whoever of them as the winner, but Andre will have my admiration the most if he did.

01-29-2004, 06:36 AM
Looking at the list of Andre's past opponents from 2001 to 2004, he actually benefited alot because the draw had opened up and most of the top seeds are gone by the time he is in the semi-finals.

This year's semi-finalists are the so called "cream of the crop" batch of players and I would agree with ys that Marat is the most difficult opponent Andre would be facing in a semi for the past 3 years. :)

01-29-2004, 06:39 AM
Safin has a good chance to beat Agassi, but he definitely has to play his best tennis and also to remain very calm and positive mentally.

Ada Monroe
01-29-2004, 09:43 AM
Mal is soo annoying.

Safin is up 7-6 7-6.

J. Corwin
01-29-2004, 11:11 AM
In the 5th set...

01-29-2004, 11:34 AM
so much for that :bounce:

Ada Monroe
01-29-2004, 11:35 AM
Safin won. He did have legs afterall. :p

01-29-2004, 11:45 AM
Congrats Marat! I thought he might fade but he has continued to surprised me. Would love to see either Marat or Roger win. :)

01-29-2004, 01:04 PM
Mal, bring on your next prediction!!!

01-29-2004, 01:11 PM
Wow! What a great match!!! I was cheering for

01-29-2004, 01:29 PM
I have to say I thought Marat had no chance either... :sad:

He played well against Roddick, but he still has his brain lapses. I thought there's no way he'd beat Agassi with that.

Udachi against Roger or Juanqui... the oaf just might be able to do it! :)

But if Marat keeps doing those stupid forehands and backhands where he kicks his legs in the air... and he hits it 10 feet long, 99% of the time... I just want to smack him...

01-29-2004, 01:35 PM
So, what's Mal's next classic comment gonna be, Marat absolutely cannot, will not win AO? I think he'll be wearing egg if Safin pulls it out.....

01-29-2004, 01:37 PM
Too bad those balls went out a few times, but I don't care I find them sexy ;)

Never thought it was possible that a certain shot in tennis would make my body temperature rise :o

01-29-2004, 01:38 PM
his backhand down the line is pretty effective for me in that area too
I had some OAF-thoughts at a certain drop shot towards the end...

01-29-2004, 10:51 PM
It's so GOOD go be wrong! Congratulations, Marat! :D

01-29-2004, 11:07 PM
Amazing. Just amazing. Just fucking amazing.

01-30-2004, 12:36 AM
Marat :worship:

*~ The Leopard ~*
01-30-2004, 02:51 AM
Yeah, Marat!! :worship:

He's really MADE this tournament, with the wins over Roddick and Agassi.

Action Jackson
01-30-2004, 03:19 AM
Well good to see Marat must have listened to my advice and apart from a few moments, he handled himself well.

He had the legs and the will to overcome Agassi and what an outstanding service game to win the match.

Honestly, the only time I was a bit worried was when the 5th set began, sure if he won in straight that would have been fantastic. He came through when it counted and congrats to Marat.