from Champions Series Tennis
GRAND CAYMAN, November 6 – Edberg executed his famed serve and volley game – mixed in with chips and charges - to overcome Arias and advance into his second career Champions Series final. Arias called Edberg his “nemesis” as he was not able to win a set in their seven previous ATP matches.
“Edberg is the perfect storm for me not to do well because my weakness plays into his strength,” said Arias.
Edberg did not prove Arias wrong. Arias did have three break points at 3-3 in the first set, but after failing to convert, never seriously threatened the rest of the match.
“I think it worked out very well. I’m happy,” said Edberg. “It’s a little tricky conditions -- I have to admit that with the wind -- but I think it played OK. I think it will be a little bit easier tomorrow when we play the match. Hopefully, the wind calms down a little bit, that would be good.”
Marat Safin knocked off Jim Courier 6-4, 6-4 Saturday in the semifinals of the $120,000 The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Legends Championships, handing Courier his first-ever loss at the Caribbean island resort. In Sunday’s final, Safin will face Stefan Edberg, a 6-4, 6-2 winner Saturday over Jimmy Arias.
The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships is a third-year event on the Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.
Courier, the 2008 and 2009 Grand Cayman champion, was not able to overcome Safin’s shot-making and power on the clay courts and in the windy conditions at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. All Safin needed was a service break in the first game of the first set and the first game of the second set to move into his first career Champions Series final.
“He’s a great player,” said Courier of Safin. “He’s fresh off the ATP tour. He’s got a lot of game. I needed to play as well as I possibly could and I think I pretty much did. It still wasn’t enough. I just lost my serve early in both sets and I was never really able to get much of a handle on his serve.”
Safin is playing in the second Champions Series event of his career after retiring from the ATP World Tour one year ago after the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. In his Champions Series debut last March in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Safin was defeated in the opening round by Wayne Ferreira.
“I was a little bit nervous but it was a pretty good match,” said Safin, who also said he struggled finding his rhythm against Courier. “I respect Jim very much and have a good history with him. I think it was a pleasant game.”
Courier was seeking to win the title in Grand Cayman for a third straight year after beating Wayne Ferreira in the 2008 final and Arias in the 2009 final.
“I’m definitely disappointed not to be back in the final again,” said Courier, who will face Arias in Sunday’s third-place match. “But I knew I’d have to play at the absolute maximum of my game today and hope that Marat was a little off his. He’s so powerful and so strong and he moves so well. It’s a tough match-up for all of us to play against him. I thought I put up a good fight.”
Safin and Edberg will play in the championship match after Courier and Arias take the court at 1 pm for the third-place match.
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