||Matt Osias –
July 26th, 2006 – Westwood, CA
the first match of the third day of the CountryWide Classic, No. 3 seed
Fernando Gonzalez gave the ever-so-dangerous Marat Safin an early exit,
winning 6-4, 6-2 on Stadium Court at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in
just over an hour.
Both players came out aggressive, holding serve through the first six
games of the match, but in the seventh game Gonzalez would make his
move, jumping out to a quick 15-40 lead. Safin managed to get the next
two points, leveling the game at deuce before finding himself down again
with a Gonzalez break point. Safin continued his fight, fending off two
straight break point opportunities with 130 mph serves, but ran out of
steam, giving Gonzalez the 4-3 advantage.
“Marat is very dangerous,” Gonzalez said. “You never know what to
expect. He hits the ball very hard and is really unpredictable.”
After an easy hold by Gonzalez to come within one game of the set, Safin
held his serve on a love-game 5-4. Gonzalez would not quit, however, as
he claimed the first set confidently.
With Safin serving to start the second set, he quickly found himself
down 30-40. But he would get little help from his usually reliable
serving, as the power hitter double faulted the first game away 0-1.
Gonzalez continued his solid play, holding serve the rest of the way,
wining the set convincingly 6-2 and more importantly advancing to a
potential quarterfinal match up against the No. 5 seed Andre Agassi on
“I would love to be able to play Andre again,” Gonzalez said. “He is
always a very tough player.”
Gonzalez’s road to the finals is anything but easy, as his possible
semifinal match could be No. 1 seed Andy Roddick.
Safin, who has a knack for losing his temper on the court, broke his
racket out of frustration in the second game of the second set. Gonzalez
hit a defensive drop shot that Safin managed to run down, but Gonzalez
guessed correctly and found the open court for the winner and a 2-0
lead. The outburst was one of many for the fiery Safin, who has found
himself in yet another slump.
Safin also won just 28 percent of his second serve opportunities
compared to 62 percent for Gonzalez.
“It’s disappointing because I played well yesterday,” Safin said. “I
guess it will take time for me to get back from my injuries.”
Matt Osias can be reached at
Emotional Farewell to Agassi
Roddick Advances, Future
Gonzalez Takes Down Safin
Sam Querrey, Hewitt, Safin,
Adam Davis shoots
courtside at the CountryWide Classic tennis tournament.
Bob and Mike
(USA) d R. de Voest (RSA) 6-4, 6-4
F. Gonzalez (CHI) d M. Safin (RUS) 6-4, 6-2
P. Goldstein (USA) d I. Kunitsyn (RUS) 6-4, 6-4
T. Haas (GER) d P. Capdeville (CHI) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
A. Agassi (USA) d [Q]G. Bastl (SUI) 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1
 B. Bryan (USA) & M. Bryan (USA) d A. Clement (FRA) & N.
Mahut (FRA) 6-1, 6-4
 W. Arthurs (AUS) & J. Kerr (AUS) d L. Burgsmuller (GER) & K.
Carlsen (DEN) 6-3, 3-6, 12-10
M. Fish (USA) & J. Gimelstob (USA) d G. Muller (LUX) & P.
Srichaphan (THA) 6-3, 6-2
I. Kunitsyn (RUS) & D. Tursunov (RUS) d S. Huss (AUS) & X.
Malisse (BEL) 6-3, 6-2