Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for marat safin

Federer-Safin as it happened

Wimbledon third round result:

R FEDERER (Swi) 1 v M SAFIN (Rus) 26 *

6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4)

* denotes server

By Sam Lyon


“Sheer, sheer quality from Federer, who was really tested in that final set but still came through. He’s favourite for another title here for a reason, and tonight he showed us why.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 6-4 7-6 Safin (7-4) A suitably quality tie-break to cap a fine third set. Safin goes one-up with a forehand winner, but an unforced error and Federer ace – his 11th of the match – give the Swiss the edge. Safin approaches the net and forces a wild Federer backhand error to make it 2-2, and the Russian keeps it on serve with a boomer. Yet another Federer ace brings the hint of a smile from his girlfriend Mirka in the crowd – she’ll want treating to dinner tonight I’m sure – and Safin fails to return the next to make it 4-3 to the Fedster. And, after a forced Federer error, the Swiss forces the first mini break, dipping a pass low over the net and Safin’s volley can only the net. An unreturnable serve seals it and it’s another straight-sets success – and a 51st straight win on grass – for Federer.

Federer 6-1 6-4 6-6 Safin Safin goes for a delaying tactic of swatting a loose ball at Federer with the Swiss lining up a serve. The reigning champion replies with four massive serves, one an ace, the others unreturnable, and it will be a third-set tie-break.

Federer 6-1 6-4 5-6 Safin Safin does respond, holding to 15 thanks to two aces and a brilliant pick-up volley off his toes at the net. Federer knows he can’t lose tonight – there will be no time for a fifth set if needed – but I’m sure he’ll want to take this to a tie-break and wrap that up swiftarooney. The crowd, with my pal Tom Fordyce and his mum among them, want a fourth set, I’m sure.

“This is the best stuff we’ve seen so far from Marat, credit to him.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 6-4 5-5 Safin Federer, who is so cool he looks like he’s just stepped out of the pool and onto his ocean-side balcony with a Margarita in hand, holds to love with a couple of big serves and slices backhand winners. Over to you Marat…

Federer 6-1 6-4 4-5 Safin A packed Centre Court are finally on tenterhooks in the face of some fantastic tennis. Safin is doing his best to bully his way past Federer, who is producing some sublime defensive tennis at times. A blistering forehand winner on the line seals the game for Safin to 30 and this set is still very much in the balance.

Federer 6-1 6-4 4-4 Safin Brilliant work from Safin, who is slowly clicking into gear here, as he pushes Federer back and then moves in to volley home for 15-0. The Swiss responds with an approach-and-volley of his own, though, and snatches the next point in the face of some crunching Safin groundstrokes with a volleyed forehand winner. Federer brings up game point with a nonchalant pass off a blistering forehand from Safin, but the Russian smashes a backhand winner down the line to take it to deuce. Federer sees it out with an ace but that was the game of the match so far. Both players are fizzing.

“Safin is playing some unbelievable tennis and yet he still can’t break Federer. He has to keep positive but it must be demoralising.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 6-4 3-4 Safin Safin’s 21st unreturnable serve of the match brings him three game points and a brilliant pick-up volley at the net helps him seal it to love. Nice quick game from the Russian.

Federer 6-1 6-4 3-3 Safin Safin, who is now playing some of his best tennis so far in the match, forces a couple of errors with deep backcourt passes to move to 30-0 up on the Federer serve. The Swiss responds, however, with a few unreturnable serves and he holds with an ace.

Federer 6-1 6-4 2-3 Safin A sliced squash-shot from Federer creeps over the net to bring the Swiss to 30-30, but any signs of Safin imploding are so far being pretty well hidden as he bludgeons a volleyed winner to move to 40-30. Federer manoeuvres his way to the net to volley his way to deuce, but Safin responds well and holds with the aid of a deep backhand volley. Well mixed up that game by the Russian.

“I’m not sure Federer has to win the French Open to be considered the best of all time. His class is undoubted in the modern game and, anyway, with the amount of time he has on his side, who’s to say just how many titles he might go on to win.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 6-4 2-2 Safin Mid-game, Barry Davies and John McEnroe reveal that “our greatest question as we share a glass of red or a bottle of beer after a game’s play, is whether Federer is the best”. Now there’s an image isn’t it? I can see it now – Macca leading a boozy Bazza astray with a few aftershocks, an ill-advised cab ride into Romford and a boogie down Brannigans nightclub, lovely stuff. Davies wouldn’t last a second. Anyway, Federer storms to 30-0 up but Safin shows a glimpse of what he’s capable of with a wide backhand followed by a punched volley to get back in the game. Typically, though, an unforced error hands Federer game point and the Swiss takes it when Safin pushes a forehand wide on the run.

Federer 6-1 6-4 1-2 Safin Safin tries to mix things up with a serve-volley attempt, but there’s a key as to why he doesn’t do that much as he can only find the net. He fails to return a deep Federer backhand to make it 40-30, but he sees out the game with a forehand winner.

Federer 6-1 6-4 1-1 Safin Federer on the other hand, is apparently desperate to hit the town, chat up a few Wimbledon lovelies and stagger home with a late-night kebab as he levels to 15, aided by a sixth and seventh ace of the match. That’s what Wimbledon champions do of an evening isn’t it? No? Ah, I see…

“Safin just does not look as if he thinks he can win this anymore.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 6-4 0-1 Safin A close-up of Federer’s bag reveals his penchant for plastering the side of it with golden Swiss stars for each of his Wimbledon titles – four and counting as it stands. All seems a bit poncey if you ask me, and I’m from Essex. Anyway, Safin is clearly in no mood to hit the Friday-night bevvies just yet as he holds the opening game of the set, Federer making three uncharacteristic errors on the backhand.


Federer 6-1 6-4 Safin Safin may have ‘forced’ Federer to serve out, but the Swiss does not seem in the least perturbed. An ace brings him 30-0 up and another unforced error from Safin gifts him three set points. He needs just one as an ace secures the second set and you have to fear for the Russian now. It’s taken him just 52 minutes to assume total control here.

Federer 6-1 5-4 Safin A 15h unforced error of the match from Safin helps Federer to 0-30 up, but the Russian steps up to the net to smash a wonderful backhand winner to get back into the match. A line judge – a different one this time – wears another serve, which is one way for Safin to take out his frustration I suppose, and the 26th seed does well to battle back from 15-40 down to deuce with two hot serves. Federer saves game point with a fabulous drop-shot volley, but a couple of Safin aces seals the game.

“Fair play to Safin. He looked vulnerable in that game but he has made sure Federer must serve out, which is what you have to do.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 5-3 Safin Safin keeps getting a fingertip on an opening and then failing to capitalise. He smashes a backhand winner on his way to 30-0 but Federer responds with typical ruthlessness, digging a low volley out from under the net to level at 30-30. Safin pushes another into the net – sparking a volley of indeterminable rubbish in Russian that I guess does not translate as “That’s it Marat, just like that, oh yeah” – and Federer wraps up the game with a wonderful half-volley off his toes from a deep Safin return.

Federer 6-1 4-3 Safin Federer senses an opening with Safin writhing in frustration after two passing efforts go long. The Swiss presses another error – which prompts Safin to smash his racket onto the ground with a wail of frustration – to bring up three break points and, after the Russian wins back two points with a fresh racket – Federer moves to 4-3 up with a drifted backhand return that dies on the line with Safin stranded.

Federer 6-1 3-3 Safin The opera singer Leslie Garrett is among those looking on today and, in all fairness to the girl, she looks like she’s been watching tennis for three unbroken years. She’s donned the bins in a desperate attempt to cover the ever-increasing bags. Still, not bad for an older lass. On court, Federer continues to look utterly dominant on serve, holding to 15 with relative ease thanks to a booming serve and unerring accuracy on his passing shots.

Federer 6-1 2-3 Safin The rally of the match so far goes Federer’s way when Safin pushes a backhand long, and the Swiss then catches the Russian flat-footed coming into the net with a whipped forehand winner to go 30-30. Safin steps up, though, punching a two-handed backhand winner to bring up game point, which he duly wins thanks to a forced Federer error.

Federer 6-1 2-2 Safin Game Federer to 30, aided by a couple of aces. The game is far more memorable for two off-court things, though. Firstly, a rather elderly line judge wearing a Federer serve in the mummy-daddy button – he’ll be hoping the swelling sticks around for days, I’m sure – and then a crowd catch claimed by a fella who rather shiftily pockets the tennis ball as the spoils of war. Fair play to that man.

“It’s harsh to say he’s underachieved in his career so far, but Safin will be the first to admit that at times he’s frustrating.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 1-2 Safin …Or maybe the match isn’t quite the contest we want it to be. You see, this is the conundrum that is Marat Safin – unplayable one moment, capitulation the next. Federer steps up his game to earn three break points with a couple of neat, if unspectacular, returns and, though Safin saves two – the second with a neat forehand volley – the Russian fires long on the third to gift Federer a break-back.

Federer 6-1 0-2 Safin McEnroe urges Safin to discover the form and mental approach he used in beating Federer in the 2005 Australian Open semi-final, and the Russian is doing his best. A crunching cross-court forehand brings him 30-0 up on Federer’s second serve and the Swiss powers long to hand Safin three break points. Great aggression from the Russian and he needs only the first. Maybe this match isn’t over after all.

Federer 6-1 0-1 Safin Safin opens up with an ace – he’s going to need a lot more from his serve if he is to get something from this match you feel – and he goes on to hold to 15. The fact that even two Federer mis-hits flew in might bother the Russian, though.


“Unsurprisingly Federer is so comfortable out here on Centre and he has taken no time at all to settle. I can’t see a way back for Safin even at this early stage. It’s looking ominous.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 6-1 Safin A sublime wide-serve-volley opens the game for Federer and he aces to go 30-0. A sliced approach and volley bring up three set points, but he only needs one. Wow that happened quickly. My chippie supper has barely settled. You’d think one of my colleagues would get a brew in to aid my digestion wouldn’t you…

Federer 5-1 Safin Safin, so often hot and cold in matches, shows his good and bad side with a booming serve followed by a simple miss on an overhead. Federer challenges a Safin serve called good unsuccessfully, but Safin finds the net with a lame return to hand the Swiss a break point. It is saved with the Russian’s first ace of the match. Federer brings up another, though, as he forces a Safin error after a backcourt rally and a double fault gifts the champion another break. Just 18 minutes gone and Federer will serve for the set.

“A little bit of background for those that don’t know – Safin’s worst surface is grass, Federer’s best surface is grass. Despite some close matches between them in the past, Federer is a big, big favourite here and it might not be the titanic tussle some expect.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Federer 4-1 Safin Now that is more like Federer genius, ending a fine rally with a pick-up volley that Safin can’t return. Safin ends a run of 11 straight Federer points with a backhand winner, but an unreturnable serve seals the game and the champion is in control early doors.

Federer 3-1 Safin A quick note to thank Mark Orlovac for filling in the first few games while I had my dinner (fish and chips on a Friday, tis the law). As much as I’d like to deny I will be buying Federer-esque white trousers for a Friday jolly, I’m actually quite taken by them. And they kinda did the trick for Richard Gere didn’t they? Anyway, early drama as Federer secures his first break to 15. The champion clicks into gear with a couple of winners but it is Safin sloppiness rather than Federer genius that costs the Russian the game.

Federer 2-1 Safin Just as I say that, Federer starts to find his service range and responds immediately with a love hold of his own.

Federer 1-1 Safin Confidence-boosting game from the Russian who comfortably holds to love. He seems to have settled the quicker.

Federer 1-0 Safin Low-key opener from both players. Federer is slow to start and uncharacteristically blasts a mid-court backhand out and a forehand straight into the net, that’s not like him. Safin puts a second serve return long and Federer holds.

1832: The players are out warming up with Rog in his funky white trousers. I’m starting to quite like them and may get some soon for a Friday night out. Not tonight though obviously.

1826: From one extreme to the other on Centre Court, then. Tipsarevic-Gonzalez was a five-set, 215-minute marathon, while Serena Williams disposed of Sequera for the loss of just one game in less than 40 minutes. Now the match we’ve all been waiting for – Federer against Safin for a place in the fourth round of Wimbledon. How long do we reckon this will last?

Story from BBC SPORT