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16th Seed Johansson Defeats Safin

Posted January. 28, 2002 09:29,   


Thomas Johansson (27. Sweden) had the honor of standing at the top in a major tournament first time in his life.

Jennifer Capriati (U.S.A) triumphed, recording the 2 Australian Open victories in a row and confirming her strong tie with the Aussie Open.

The season’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, held the men’s singles final at Melbourne Park, Australia, on 27th. 16th seed Johansson defeated the 9th Marat Safin (22,Russia) in 2 hours and 53 minutes by 3-1 (3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6). The winning prize was 520,000 dollars.

Johansson, hereby, recorded the lowest seed championship since 1976’s Mark Edmans who was unseeded.

"I almost missed the game, but I was lucky winning the finals." said Johansson, who hurriedly reached the court on a taxi before the game, because his coach did not arrange a car. Regarding the Swedish fans who supported him fanatically throughout the game, he said, "Without the fans, I wouldn’t be standing here. I want to share the pleasure with them."

Safin, whose birthday was on the day, pursued his second Grand Slam title following the 2000 U.S. Open, but failed before Johansson’s experienced game play. Safin furthermore suffered from a bad physical condition, losing his balance on the serves. He lacked stamina and lost control of his renowned `power tennis`.

Out of total 25 challenges in the Grand Slams, including 8 Australian Opens, Johansson won his first championship. He said that playing squash 2 times a week during the winter training session turned out to be fruitful. He also pointed out that squash is faster than tennis, therefore, strokes became sharper and it was helpful for gaining fast reflexes and footwork.

Meanwhile, Capriati defeated her strong rival Martina Hingis (Switzerland) by 2-1 (4-6, 7-6 , 6-2) on the previous day’s women’s singles final.

Capriati gained her second victory in a row over last year’s same competitor Hingis, and also earned 520,000 dollars as the winning prize.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com