Safin Masters Madrid, Sharapova Loses

The Moscow Times
Monday, October 25, 2004. Page 16.

Safin Masters Madrid, Sharapova Loses

The Associated Press

Alvaro Hernandez / AP

Safin enjoying a shower of champagne courtesy of models at the ATP Masters
Series tournament in Madrid on Sunday. In the final, Safin beat David
Nalbandian 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

MADRID — Playing some overpowering tennis, Marat Safin ground down David
Nalbandian of Argentina, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the $3 million Madrid

In Zurich, fellow Russian Maria Sharapova had less luck, losing to underdog
Alicia Molik of Australia in the final of the Swisscom Challenge 4-6, 6-2,

The Madrid final pitted players ranked ninth (Safin) and 10th in the world,
but the day belonged to the Russian, whose win edges him closer to a berth
in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Houston next month.

Safin had 14 aces in the match that lasted 1 hour, 52 minutes. Nalbandian,
who didn’t lose a single set en route to the finals, had just one.

Of his first nine service games, Nalbandian lost four. When he did break
Safin, once in each of the first two sets, a determined Safin broke back
almost immediately.

The winner pocketed $534,000 and 100 points in the Race and Entry Rankings.

Safin overtook Tim Henman of Britain for sixth place. Of the eight
invitations, four are locked up, leaving four to be decided in the next few

Nalbandian, the 2002 losing Wimbledon finalist, stayed in 10th spot.

Some of the biggest names in tennis were absent due to injury or other
reasons, notably the top three players in the world — Roger Federer, Andy
Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt.

In Zurich, Olympic bronze medalist Molik ended Wimbledon champion
Sharapova’s 12-match winning streak, inflicted the 17-year-old Russian’s
first defeat in a final, dashed Sharapova’s attempt to take three successive
trophies after wins in Seoul and Tokyo, and denied her a seventh career

“Bad luck,” Molik said, addressing Sharapova during the prize ceremony at
Zurich’s Schluefweg Stadium. “We had a good match. I’m looking forward to
more of these battles in the future.”

Molik, 23, also avenged her straight sets defeat by Sharapova in the
quarterfinals of June’s DFS Classic in Birmingham, England — the pair’s
only previous meeting — and captured a third WTA trophy for her collection,
after victories last year in Hobart, Australia, and in August in Stockholm,

Molik felled two of Sharapova’s compatriots — Vera Zvonareva and Nadia
Petrova — on her way to the final of the $1.3 million Swisscom Challenge.

Molik said she was unfazed after she dropped the first set Sunday.

She likewise bounced back in her semi Saturday against champion Patty
Schnyder of Switzerland, defeating the home favorite 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“That’s something I’ve been doing all week,” Molik said. “I’ve been keeping
my cool.”

No. 4 seed Sharapova knocked out Venus Williams in straight sets in Friday’s
quarterfinals. In her all-Russian semi Saturday, she beat Yelena Dementyeva
4-6, 6-2, 6-3.