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Wrist Injury Sidelines Safin

January 18, 2003|Lisa Dillman

MELBOURNE, Australia — A big name on the men's side exited today, but not because of a loss on the court.

Russia's Marat Safin, who lost in the final here last year to Sweden's Thomas Johansson, withdrew shortly before his third-round match at the Australian Open because of a torn left wrist ligament. Safin suffered the injury in his first match here and required an injection to play his second match but was unable to move his wrist without substantial pain.

"I can feel myself that I cannot hold the racket," Safin said. "I spoke to the doctor and he said, 'Just don't do that.' Still a long time to go. The year is just beginning. Just one tournament, so why would I destroy all my season? I prefer to stop now, even if it's a Grand Slam. Health is more important than the rest of the things."

Benefiting from his withdrawal was Germany's Rainer Schuettler, who advanced to the fourth round. He will play James Blake, who defeated Alberto Martin of Spain, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Safin's Davis Cup appearance in the first round also appears in jeopardy. Defending champion Russia will play the Czech Republic, beginning Feb. 7.

-- Lisa Dillman

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