Safin, Santoro Say Goodbye to Open

The day was highlighted by two goodbyes. Marat Safin fell to Juergen Melzer in the first round, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, ending his final Open early. Safin won here in 2000, and also won the Australian Open in 2005. One of the most promising players of the past decade, he brought power and passion to his game. He was also blazingly inconsistent and prone to regular fits of pique towards umpires and himself. Even recently, he was still capable of a run deep into a draw, as when he made it to the semifinals of last year’s Wimbledon, but he never truly delivered on his potential. Had he risen a few years earlier, in the uncertain days of late-90s men’s tennis, he may have seen his Slam collection double, triple, or more, but he was unable to really compete against the likes of Federer and Nadal.

Fabrice Santoro also ended his 18th and final Open in the first round, losing to Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Like Safin, another popular and flamboyantly entertaining player, Santoro is retiring after this season. Both his forehand and backhand are two-handed, and he was nicknamed “The Magician” by Pete Sampras for his dazzling array of trick shots. Incidentally, his record against Safin is 7-2.

American Robby Ginepri, a semifinalist here in 2005 but since then not much of a factor, defeated Andrei Pavel, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0. And, in continuing bright news for American women’s tennis after yesterday’s win for Melanie Oudin, 20-year-old Vania King upset 15th-seeded Samantha Stosur, 7-5, 6-4.

Venus Williams defeated the unmissable Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4, 6-2. And sadly, Sybille Bammer, who lost in her first round match yesterday, lost in the first round of mixed doubles, too, alongside Lukasz Kubot of Poland. The winners were Lisa Raymond and Marcin Matkowski, 6-3, 6-2.