posted on May, 30 2004 @ 08:18 AM
Marat Safin was at the centre of controversy at the French Open when his call for treatment
almost certainly robbed 22-year-old qualifier Potito Starace of one of the biggest shocks in tennis.
The Italian, playing his first Grand Slam tournament, was serving for the match at 5-4 up and deuce in the fourth set, having already squandered two
match points, when Safin called for the trainer to treat blisters on his right hand. The French crowd jeered and whistled as Safin took his time and
Starace paced the court while his entourage in the players' box voiced their disapproval. When play resumed Safin immediately produced a brilliant top
spin lob to gain the momentum, break Starace's serve and go on to win the set. And while the Italian battled manfully in the fifth set, saving five
match points, his chance had gone and he succumbed to a 6-7 6-4 3-6 7-5 7-5 defeat - his concentration broken by the controversial rule which allows
the match to be stopped in such circumstances. At the end of four hours and 25 minutes Safin was booed off court while Starace was cheered by the
remaining spectators in the gloom of Court Philippe Chatrier.