Safin injury puts Open challenge in jeopardy

Marat Safin faces a race against time to be fit for next week's Australian Open after withdrawing from the adidas International in Sydney with a right shoulder injury.

The Russian, who was second at Melbourne Park last year, was forced to retire hurt from a doubles match on Wednesday night with tendinitis.

Although he can still practise, Safin is unable to serve. With the first Grand Slam of the season starting on Monday, he said: "I cannot serve. It has hurt since the first day I came here, but it has gone on. Hopefully, I'll be ready for the Australian. I need to stop for a few days. I'll ask for a late start and try and recover."

In the women's draw at the Sydney event, Belgium's Kim Clijsters beat Chanda Rubin 6-1, 6-2, while her compatriot Justine Henin-Hardenne was made to work harder by the South African Amanda Coetzer before winning 6-4, 6-4. The winners meet in the semi-finals.

The Russian Tatiana Panova, who knocked out Jennifer Capriati in the first round, booked her place in the other semi-final with a 6-3, 6-2, win over Olga Barabanschikova for a tie against Lindsay Davenport after the former world No 1 beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in their quarter-final.

In Hobart, the second seed Amy Frazier of the United States advanced to the Tasmanian International final with a 6-3, 6-4, win over the fourth seed Elena Likhovtseva of Russia. Frazier will play the unseeded Australian Alicia Molik, who beat Ivita Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, in the other semi-final.

Likhovtseva raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set before Frazier found rhythm and accuracy with her groundstrokes. The American then won seven straight games as Likhovtseva was forced into defensive errors. Both players struggled to hold their serve in the second set before Frazier finally served out the match despite a double fault on her first match point.

It will be the 30-year-old Frazier's first final in five appearances at the Tasmanian International.

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