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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 October, 2004, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Spanish success for Safin
Marat Safin in action in Madrid
Marat Safin defeated David Nalbandian to lift the Madrid Masters trophy and leapfrog Tim Henman in the race to qualify for the Masters Cup.

The Russian third seed swept aside Nalbandian 6-2 6-4 6-3 in Spain.

The Argentine grabbed a break in the second set but could not get back on level terms as Safin responded, breaking him twice to go two sets up.

Safin wrapped up the match just inside two hours and moves to sixth in the race for the season-ending Masters Cup.

With Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt already guaranteed berths in the Houston finale, the battle for the other places is tight.

Gaston Gaudio, currently eighth in the race, is already through as winner of the French Open but Henman, Safin and Andre Agassi remain in the hunt.

The players can now only possibly compete in a maximum of two qualifying tournaments before the Masters Cup which starts on 15 November.

It's been a good year after I started at 89th in the world rankings. Nobody remembers that.
Marat Safin

Safin admitted afterwards that he was delighted with his form after starting the year in 89th place in the rankings.

"The way I am playing I think I can get to the Masters and get higher in the rankings.

"I didn't really expect to be playing such good tennis although this match was quite a lot easier than I had expected."

Safin credits much of his improvement to Peter Lundgren, Roger Federer's former coach, who he has been working with since April this year.

"He explains things, he teaches, he tries to explain why, how and what you have to do to reach the goal. He knows the main things that only a professional coach knows," he said.


SEE ALSO
Agassi powers through in Madrid
21 Oct 04  |  Tennis
Henman slumps to Spanish defeat
21 Oct 04  |  Tennis
Henman overcomes Costa
20 Oct 04  |  Tennis


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