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   Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 01:26 GMT
Injured Safin pulls out
Marat Safin
Safin injured himself after falling in the first round
Last year's beaten finalist Marat Safin has withdrawn from the Australian Open with a wrist injury.

The third seed was due to play Germany's Rainer Schuettler in a third-round match on Saturday, but was forced to default the match.

He told a news conference that he had torn ligaments in his left wrist when he fell during his first-round win over Raemon Sluiter.

"In my first match I fell down and felt some pain and in the second match (against Albert Montanes) I had an injection which is why I didn't feel anything," he said.

"It's a small cut in the ligament and the doctors said it would take about two to three weeks to heal.

"I will have ice and laser treatment for the wrist injury, but it basically needs rest."

The 22-year-old had been troubled by shoulder and back problems since arriving in Australia.

He withdrew from the Sydney International last week with an injured right shoulder, diagnosed as inflammation of the rotator cuff.

Everyone's trying to play too many tournaments and the bodies of the players cannot take it

Marat Safin

Safin said that the injury-enforced break would be a welcome relief after having only a few weeks to recover from Russia's epic Davis Cup final win over France in December.

The Russian has been one of a number of players advocating changes to the tennis calendar, saying the break between seasons was too short and was contributing to injuries.

A number of top players, including defending champion Thomas Johannson, pulled out of the Australian Open before it began with niggling injuries.

"Everyone's trying to play too many tournaments and because the level of tennis is so high the bodies of the players cannot take it," Safin said.

"Every time you play you need two or three weeks off because the body is getting tired really fast. We don't have a rest at all now, so it's difficult."

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