Continuing knee problems (tendonitis of right knee) have forced Russia’s Marat Safin out of Hyundai Hopman Cup XVIII in Perth. Safin was to partner Svetlana Kutnezsova who will now be partnered by 20 year old Teimuraz Gabashvili.
Safin said “I am very disappointed to have to pull out of the 2006 Hopman Cup due to a longer than expected recuperation period of my right knee tendonitis. It is an event that I have taken part regularly over the past years and one of my favourite events of the year. I hope to catch up what I will be missing this year in 2007”.
Kutnezsova, former world number 4, a US Open Singles Champion and reigning Australian Open Doubles Champion is making her debut at the Hopman Cup. She is due to arrive in Perth on Friday for her first match against the USA on Tuesday 3rd January.
Svetlana when advised that Safin’s recovery was not progressing well said “I know Teimraz well, speak to him most days and would be delighted to play with him, as he is improving quickly”.
The two 20 year olds, born one month apart in Russia, are both based in Barcelona and now create an interesting match up against the two 18 year olds from Serbia & Montenegro. Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic are two of the rising stars of international tennis and Safin’s withdrawal makes this group wide open. Ivanovic and Djokovic have already arrived in Perth.
Teimuraz Gabashvili has played mainly at the Challenger circuit, reaching 3 finals (winning 1) in 2005. He also had a notable win over James Blake in the ATP event at Delray Beach. He will face tough opposition as he takes on Taylor Dent, Thomas Johansson and then Novak Djokovic. He is currently in Doha participating in an ATP Challenger event. He will leave for Perth as soon as he is out of the event. When advised his first match is on Tuesday he said to Tournament Director Paul McNamee “that’s good then even if I win in Doha I still have no problem making it to Perth in time.”
Given the lateness of Safin’s withdrawal, at the instruction of the referee, Peter Bellenger, there will be no change to the seedings or draw. The Order of Play remains as is. Russia will open their Hopman Cup campaign against USA’s Lisa Raymond and Taylor Dent, on Tuesday 3 January 2006 at 10.00am.
arvidsson clijsters dulko ivanovic
kuznetsova sharapova stosur