18/10/11 - 17:18
The nasty cut on Safin’s right eyebrow did not stop him from conquering the 2000 Paris Tennis Masters Series. The Russian’s great comeback followed a third set nearwithdrawal against Mark Philippoussis in the final , when Safin injured himself with his racquet on a leap which was intended to return a far shot. The Russian held up though… right through the Australian’s five match -points (saved!) in the final set tie-breaker.
Before leaving the POPB for the hospital to get stitches, Safin declared this was one of his best career-wins. His second-best, to be precise: “ I t comes just after the US Open…” he announced, fresh off the court.
Marat Safin hadn’t dropped a set before the November 19th final. Going one step further than in the 1999 edition, where he lost to Andre Agassi in the final, this year Safin eliminated Switzerland’s qualifier George Bastl, Frenchman Sébastien Grosjean, Spain’s Alex Corretja in the quarters and Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semis – an honourable accomplishment by the then Champions Race leader.
From one year to the next, at the age of 20, Safin’s status at Bercy climbed from that of most promising newcomer to n°2 seed. In between his two Bercy finals he won his first Tennis Masters Series in Toronto and his first Grand Slam, the 2000 US Open.
Meanwhile, in Paris a symbolic “passing of the baton” by the older to the younger generation of players was impossible, as the tournament’s 15th edition and newlybaptized Tennis Masters Series – Paris lacked two of the best names in tennis, the American “oldies” Pete Sampras (winner in 1995 and 1997) and Andre Agassi (winner in 1994 and 1999), both injured.
Most of the ten Frenchmen present – a record – made early exits, including 1999 quarterfinalist Cédric Pioline, whose first match (2nd round) was lost to Switzerland’s Marc Rosset (7-5 7-5). Boutter (2nd round), Golmard (1st), Di Pasquale (1st), Huet (2nd), Clément (2nd), Escudé (1st) and Llodra (1st) did not do better.
On the other hand, Frenchmen Grosjean and Santoro were able to push ahead. However, n°16 seed Grosjean, winner over Tommy Haas on his way to the Round of 16, faced the misfortune of then playing Marat Safin. He lost the first set 6-2 and the second a little less easily (7-6).
As for Fabrice Santoro, he improved his overall Bercy results. Previously unlucky here (3 w.-7 l. in 7 participations), Santoro now gathered pace at the POPB, beating Moya in spite of a lost first set, and then Rosset, a victory which paved his way to the quarterfinals. Santoro’s three-hour long threat to Juan Carlos Ferrero during their quarterfinal match ended in favour of the Spaniard 6-4 6-7(10) 7-5. The 2000 tournament was destined to be the seventh edition since 1993 with no French players in the semifinals…