Tennis As Usual: Hey Marat, You Won the Match

Marat Safin stole the show in Moscow, where most of the tennis action is taking place this week since both men and women are competing at the Kremlin Cup. As usual, Safin made headlines for something other than his play. After securing a break with opponent Noam Okun serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the third set, Safin walked over to his chair thinking it was time for just another changeover. Little did Safin know that the match was over. Umpire Carlos Bernardes kindly informed the Russian that he had won and Safin finally walked up to the net to exchange both a handshake and a laugh with Okun.

Also advancing in Moscow on Tuesday were No. 1 seed Nikolay Davydenko, Robby Ginepri, and Serbs Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.

Flavia Pennetta made the most noise on the women’s side with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 upset of Venus Williams. The crowd, however, had to be more enthusiastic about a host of Russians making it to the second round. Russian winners included Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, and Daniela Hantuchova.

Seeds also tumbled at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy in Vienna, where No. 1 seed Stanislas Wawrinka fell to Philipp Petzschner in a third-set tiebreaker and No. 7 Gilles Simon bowed out to Eduardo Schwank, also in three sets. Fellow Masters Cup hopeful Fernando Gonzalez, on the other hand, survived Simone Bolelli after dropping the first set.

On the ATP Tour, however, the day really belonged to long-lost Joachim Johansson. The big-serving Swede, who had not played competitively in exactly one year, came out of retirement this week to take part in the Stockholm Open and he thrilled the crowd by winning his first match on Tuesday night over Nicolas Mahut. “Pim-Pim” fired 20 aces in just two sets en route to a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory.

In round two Johansson will face top-seeded David Nalbandian, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Bobby Reynolds. Other seeded players who safely moved through were No. 2 Mario Ancic, No. 5 Rainer Schuettler, and No. 6 Jose Acasuso. Jonas Bjorkman, who is retiring at the end of 2008, was not as fortunate as his countryman Johansson. The veteran lost his first-round match to Juan Monaco in straight sets.