Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Safin succumbs to neck injury

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2008 (Reuters) — Marat Safin's U.S. Open preparations suffered a setback when the former world number one was forced to retire from his first round match at the ATP event in Washington with a neck injury on Tuesday.

The Russian sixth seed lost the first set against Italian Fabio Fognini 7-5 and then decided to withdraw from the match.

"I just blocked it and I pulled a muscle," Safin told reporters, adding that he suffered the injury on the second point of the match.

"It was getting worse and worse. I should have stopped earlier. I thought it might get a bit better, but it didn't."

Safin said he would now rest and then go to New York to prepare for the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug 25.

"I need at least four to five days to be able to turn it. I should be OK (for the U.S. Open)," he said. "I can't do much about it. It's a pity but I have to deal with it."

Despite the injury, Safin had surged into a 3-0 lead but after dropping his serve in the fifth game, the double grand slam winner requested an injury timeout.

With his flexibility restricted and his service speed well down, Safin was broken again in a protracted 11th game to give Fognini a 6-5 lead.