Madrid Masters: Safin beats Nalbandian

Russian Marat Safin produced another outstanding performance to beat Argentina's David Nalbandian 6-2 6-4 6-3 and win the Madrid Masters on Sunday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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Sunday's final of the Madrid Masters pitted players ranked ninth, Marat Safin, and 10th, David Nalbandian, in the world; both near the top of their games. Nalbandian had dropped just one set en route to the final - but Sunday belonged to the Russian. Nalbandian, beaten in four of five previous meetings with Safin, was always going to have to be at his peak to unsettle the Russian. As a result, the Argentine went for his shots from the start but he was unable to match Safin's combination of power and accuracy. He broke Nalbandian in his first two service games, jumped to a 4-1 lead and took the first set in 29 minutes. Russian nerve In the second set, Nalbandian finally broke the Russian's serve in game three. But his first and only lead of the match was short-lived. Pounding in seven aces - at least one in each service game - Safin broke back in games six and 10. Safin would blast 14 aces in the match - Nalbandian had just one. Of his first nine service games, Nalbandian lost four. When he did break Safin, once in each of the first two sets, his opponent broke back almost immediately. Powerful serves Safin kept Nalbandian off balance with his powerful serves - but the Argentine made a lot of unforced errors: 38 compared to Safin's 26. In the third set, Safin held serve, broke Nalbandian's, held his own and closed out the match easily after an hour and 52 minutes. "Yes, I didn't really serve well in the second set and that's why he made me an early break. I was like a little bit worried. But then I was feeling actually very comfortable and returning games and I broke back after a couple of games and, for me, it was just easy. I got the confidence back. It was easier for me to win this match," said Safin. Safin pocketed US$534,000 and 100 points towards the Masters Series Final to overtake Tim Henman of Britain for sixth place. Of the eight invitations, four are locked up, leaving four to be decided in the next few weeks. (AP)