Three-time winner of the Paris Open Marat Safin has announced he could stop playing professionally after an upset against Argentine Juan Monaco, 6-0, 7-6. The Russian last win date back from Australia Open in 2005.
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The regular tennis season entered the final strait Monday at the Paris Masters, where a dozen players are chasing the three remaining slots at next month's lucrative season-ender in Shanghai.
With 18 of the top 20 players in the world appearing in the City of Light - including Roger Federer, who confirmed he would be on board as he bids to land his first Masters title of the year, French fans expected a feast.
They also hoped that, with the top players getting a bye to round two they would see three-time Paris champion Marat Safin serve up a tasty hors d'oeuvre against Argentine qualifier Juan Monaco.
Instead, Safin gave them a dogs breakfast of a performance - losing absymally 0-6, 6-7 (4/7) in 1hr 19min.
Seven double faults and 46 unforced errors told their own sad story and Safin, champion in 2000, 2002 and 2004 but now lumbering outside the top 30, admitted he couldn't wait to start his holiday in Miami.
"I just don't know what happened. I just couldn't find my rhythm. I didn't take my chances," said the two-time Grand Slam winner, who turns 29 in January.
Safin said he would consider his professional future after two almost non-stop years.
"I have had two difficult years and no vacation - pretty intensive.
"If I feel like I want to continue to play I will - if not it will be over," he told reporters.
Safin lost the first eight games but broke back after several bouts of head clutching for 2-2 in the second.
An ace moved the Russian to 6-5 but Monaco held to force the tiebreak, whereupon Safin produced a series of wild and loose shots to concede the battle.
Federer, dethroned by Rafael Nadal in August as world number one after a record 237 weeks, arrives here fresh from retaining his title in Basel after defeating Argentine David Nalbandian in Sunday's final.
He also has the added incentive of winning a crown which has to date eluded him - as has the French Open across town at Roland Garros.
Federer and Nadal, along with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Nikolay Davydenko, have already booked their Shanghai tickets but a dozen players can still capture the remaining slots, adding to the competitive edge at the Bercy stadium in eastern Paris.
Before Safin's comedy of errors, Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, was forced to quit with lower back pain in the third set of his match with Sam Querrey of the United States.
"I felt a sharp pain. I didn't want to take any risks of being out for a long time and have problems later," said Baghdatis, who has had an injury-plagued season.
Querrey's dubious reward is a match against British fourth seed Andy Murray, who on Sunday became the first Briton in 33 years to land back to back titles with his successful defence at Saint Petersburg on Sunday - Mark Cox having won London and Washington in 1975.
Murray has won five titles this year - second only on the men's tour to top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who has carried off eight.
Date created : 2008-10-27