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25th April
2003
written by kat

Marat Safin Also Reaches Quarterfinals
from the official ATP website
25 April 2003
Top seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated Italian qualifier Filippo Volandri Thursday at the Open SEAT Godo 2003 in Barcelona, while two other Spaniards also advanced into Friday’s quarterfinals. After going down 4-0 in the first set, Volandri fought back, but Ferrero closed out the first and moved into the quarterfinals of a tournament for the fifth time in 2003 with a 6-4, 6-4, victory.
Volandri, who has qualified for two consecutive tournaments, going 9-2 during that time and breaking into the Top 100, will likely move up another five positions when the ATP Rankings come out on Monday.
Ferrero next faces Gustavo Kuerten, who received a walkover when ninth-seeded Younes El Aynaoui withdrew from the event due to a throat and ear infection. Kuerten’s coach, Larri Passos, had originally wanted to avoid telling him that El Aynaoui was forced to withdraw from the tournament, so that Kuerten would be very focused in the morning practice. But El Aynaoui had already explained the situation and word got out that Kuerten had received a walkover.
In other matches, 12th-seeded Tommy Robredo battled through two tough sets with Alex Corretja before pulling away in the third set for the win in the first ATP meeting between these two. Last year’s finalist Albert Costa was soundly defeated in straight sets by Argentine Agustin Calleri. Calleri is putting together an excellent 2003 season on clay. He is now 15-4 on the year on terre battue with titles in Acapulco and a run to the final (l. to Davydenko) in Estoril two weeks ago. But he is just 3-5 on hard courts in 2003.
Second-seeded Carlos Moya moved comfortably into the quarterfinals with a win over Dominik Hrbaty. Moya is looking for a match-up in the final with top-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero — a match-up that looked to happen last week at the Tennis Masters Monte-Carlo, before Guillermo Coria surprised Moya in the semifinals.
Marat Safin picked up one of his best wins on the season so far with a straight set dismantling of Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen. The last time these two played on clay Nieminen defeated Safin en route to the final at the 2002 Estoril Open, but today Safin turned the tables and took a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head series. Safin won this Barcelona event in 2000.
Safin’s countryman Nikolay Davydenko defeated Jose Acasuso in straight sets and has yet to lose a set this week. Davydenko is the only unseeded player through to the quarterfinals.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Kuerten: “It wasn’t a normal day to wake up in preparation to play and Younes (El Aynaoui) was sick. It is strange to say something about today. I don’t want to take it for granted. I want to forget that I got a walkover to the next round. I’m am taking today as an opportunity to practice hard for tomorrow’s match. I am obviously happy to be in the quarterfinals already and I am looking forward to my next match.”
On his next opponent:
“If I play Ferrero, it is going to be a great test to measure how well I am playing right now.”
Calleri: “I was playing aggressively from the start of the match. I felt I was dominating most of the points and serving very well today.”
On his next opponent:
“The last time I played Robredo was in the semifinals of Estoril. I was playing well and I beat him. It has been a long time since I played against Corretja. Against either opponent, I will continue to play here with a lot of confidence having won an ATP tournament in Acapulco and reached the final of Estoril. This is a very important tournament on the calendar and I want to do my best here.”
Safin: “I don’t feel under pressure or rushed right now. I like this tournament. It has a great atmosphere. I won the tournament three years ago, but a lot of things have changed. I won the tournament when I was ranked in the 30s. Now, I am the man to beat.”
“My game is to play quickly and get the pressure on my opponents. I have a system on court. If I lose that, I lose everything. I need to keep motivated and aggressive.”
“I need hard matches to build up my confidence again. I want to win tournaments and find the points again.”
On Roland Garros
“I arrived to Roland Garros feeling very tired last year. At least this year, the positive side of my injuries is that I have had a lot of time to rest.”
On possibly playing Gaudio next
“With Gaudio, you can’t let him play his game. If you do, he kills you or at least you won’t win. I will be putting the pressure on his game.”
Costa: “I don’t think I have made the full transition from hard courts to clay yet. I had a great hard court season, reaching the semifinals of Miami, but I am not finding my rhythm on clay yet. I am missing the keys of the clay court game. The shots are good, but the concept isn’t. I will be working on this aspect over the next weeks to get there.”
Volandri: “Ferrero is possibly the best player in the world right now on clay. In the first set, he ran me over like a train.”
“In juniors, I had some good results, but I didn’t find the same success on the professional tour. I needed to change something. The most important thing was my decision to practice in Monte-Carlo this winter. I am still working with the same coach, but I have a different physical trainer. In Monte-Carlo, I practised with some good players and learnt a lot from them. I feel all the hard work I have done recently is starting to pay off with good results.”
“My game is to put pressure from the baseline. My point of power is my forehand, even if I have a good backhand. I am working on improving other aspects of my game by looking and studying the other players.”
“Sure I have pressure on me now to do well in the future, but I would prefer to have this pressure having done well recently, than for people to hold low expectations of me.”
Corretja: “You reach a point when you have different priorities. I got to a stage in my career when I decided to select my tournaments and limit my schedule. This can work out well if you maintain good results, but when you don’t, you are in a difficult position. If you only play a few tournaments and do badly, you are lacking in matches. Most of the other players are constantly playing and have that advantage and rhythm over you. February 2003 was a low point in my career. I am never going back there.”
“I want to look forward and find my best tennis again. The only way I can do that is to play as many matches as I can. I will definitely accept a wild card and play in Valencia if they offer it to me.”
“For most of the match I felt superior today. I am leaving here with a good conscience in the knowledge I gave it my all.”
Moya: “Hrbaty is a good player. He’s a tough opponent to beat when he gets into the match. I am happy with the way I managed to defeat him today.”
“I personally think it is always best to win a match quickly and without any complications, but you can take some positives from winning a match have suffered.”
“My next opponent is Davydenko. He’s been playing very well, winning two titles this year and most recently in Estoril. I am still surprised to be playing him here in the quarterfinals but I will have to be very careful out there tomorrow.”
Ferrero: “A match is never easy at this level. You always have to fight and keep your concentration. I always play at a hundred percent and never underestimate my opponent.”
FRIDAY MATCHES
The blockbuster match of the day features three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten against two-time Roland Garros semifinalist and last year’s finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero. Ferrero is coming off his third Tennis Masters Series title last week in Monte-Carlo, while Kuerten reached the final of the Pacific Life Open last month in Indian Wells. The two are tied 2-2 in their head-to-head series with Guga winning both times at Roland Garros and Ferrero winning on two other occasions. Twice these players have gone the full five-set distance, so the possibility of a tough three-set match is real in Barcelona on Friday.
Tommy Robredo faces Argentina’s Agustin Calleri, who already captured a title on clay earlier this year in Acapulco. Robredo’s only career ATP title came on clay in Sopot in 2001. Carlos Moya has played Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko twice before in quarterfinals of a tournament and has won both times, going on to capture the tournament in Bastad last year after defeating Davydenko in straight sets.
In the day’s other quarterfinal, Marat Safin looks to reach his first semifinal on the year after a disappointing start to the season and several unlucky injuries. His last quarterfinal appearance was last year at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, where he captured the title.

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