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Safin Wins In Barcelona

Marat Safin, who only last month was thinking of leaving the tennis tour, won the Barcelona Open on Sunday, beating Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

The 20-year-old Russian had 16 aces in what he said might have been the best match he ever played.

"I was under control since the first point," he said. "It was like chess. I knew just where I needed to play each ball. I couldn't have played better."

He credited his victory to his new coach, Andrei Chesnokov, and dedicated it to his ex-coach, Rafael Mensua.

"If you're not serving well you have to play long points and that's the kind of game Ferrero likes," Safin said. "My serve didn't give him much chance to play."

Both players trained in Valencia and often practiced together. The Russian had promised that Ferrero would see a "new Marat Safin," and he lived up to his promise.

"He certainly played as well as I've ever seen him," Ferrero said. "I was fine and ready to play, but when he served I had no chance. He was returning my serve very well. All those aces, those free points, ate away at my morale."

Safin broke Ferrero in the seventh game and again in the ninth game to win the first set. In the second set, Safin broke in the sixth game. In the third set, he broke in the fourth game.

"I still felt I might pull it out after the first two sets," Ferrero said. "But after he broke me in the third there wasn't much to do."

Safin earned $148,000 and Ferrero won $77,900.

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