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Heineken Open Entrant Hits Form

Heineken Open 2002 signing Marat Safin has continued his good run of late season form by retaining his St Petersburg crown to win his second title of the year and remain in contention for a place in the Tennis Masters Cup in Sydney.

Safin who is likely to be one of the top seeds in the Vodafone singles at the Heineken Open 7-12 January 2002 beat Germany's Rainer Schuettler 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win his second consecutive St. Petersburg Open.

Safin also came from a set behind to defeat fellow countryman Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the semifinals. It was the Russian's big serve that helped get him out of trouble and gave him a huge confidence boost as he begins the defence of his Tennis Masters Series Paris Shield next week and continues his bid for a Sydney berth.

Tournament Director Graham Pearce said “This is great news for the Heineken Open, Marat is without doubt a true contender for the title of world number one and that could well happen in 2002 with Auckland providing the launch-pad.”

Whatever happens in Paris, Safin said he is pleased with the way he is playing after a year in which he was troubled by injuries. "It's good to finish the year like this," he said. "But my goal for 2002 is to be No. 1."

The 21 year old Moscow native will be able to use the Heineken Open as a perfect start for the first Grand Slam event in 2002, the Australian Open which starts two days after Auckland.


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