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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Limp Safin slumps to Lopez defeat
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Marat Safin
Marat Safin's brief love affair with grass ended with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 defeat to Spain's Feliciano Lopez.

The fifth seed, never a fan of grass, had been in good form on the surface but lost his way against Lopez.

Safin boiled over at 4-3 in the first set when he lost a point to break back following a contentious line call.

The Russian received a warning for smashing a ball out of Court One before slipping to an otherwise uninspiring defeat against left-hander Lopez.

While the Spaniard will face Mario Ancic or Gael Monfils in the last 16, Safin will now take a break for treatment on a lingering knee problem.

However, the 25-year-old insisted he had not lost confidence in his ability to play well on grass.

"I've been playing great the last few weeks so even though I lost, I'm satisfied I found my game," said Safin, who reached the final at the grass event in Halle two weeks ago.

I have a great opportunity to go further
Feliciano Lopez

"I think I was a little bit unlucky with the draw but really, I've got nothing to complain about.

"I wasn't good enough today, but I can't play my best tennis every day. I just couldn't find that bit extra."

Unlike many of his fellow Spaniards, Lopez is far more comfortable on fast courts than clay - and he showed why against Safin.

The 24-year-old, who sent down 14 aces, won 90% of points on his first serve, approaching the net on each occasion.


Having wrapped up the first set, the second went to a tiebreak.

As Lopez took an early advantage, Safin smacked his racket onto the ground, breaking the frame.

The umpire opted not to give the Russian a second warning, and therefore a point penalty, but even that let-off failed to inspire the Australian Open champion.

Lopez, watched by doubles partner Rafael Nadal, continued his untroubled progress and sealed a two-set lead with an impudent drop shot.

The 26th seed closed on in victory when Safin double-faulted at break point in the sixth game of the third set and from there went on to claim victory in one hour 50 minutes.

The Spaniard is in the last 16 for the third time in his career, and is hoping to progress further for the first time.

"I have a great opportunity to go further," he said.

"It's great win for me and it gives me confidence for the next game.

"After I won the first set, I think I started to play much better and in the end I really produced my best tennis."


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