Safin states intent with demolition job on Coria

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The Independent Online

Marat Safin, the man in form in the lead-up to the Masters Cup here, enjoyed an easy hour yesterday: the time it took the Russian to dispatch Guillermo Coria, of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, in his opening round-robin match.

Marat Safin, the man in form in the lead-up to the Masters Cup here, enjoyed an easy hour yesterday: the time it took the Russian to dispatch Guillermo Coria, of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, in his opening round-robin match.

Coria, who qualified for the eight-man field in spite of missing the last three months of the season after shoulder surgery, was asked if was considering retiring from the tournament to work on his fitness for next year's campaign. "I'm staying," he said. Coria and Safin are in Tim Henman's group.

Safin was asked about his compatriot Yevgeny Kafelnikov's decision to quit tennis for professional poker. "I hope he will be lucky," Safin said, smiling, "because that kind of thing can cost you money. But he always liked poker and the casino. So why not? He has enough money to play."

Lleyton Hewitt was able to get off the mark after an overnight delay. The Australian former world No 1 completed his opening round-robin contest, defeating Carlos Moya, of Spain, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Although rain affected the tournament's early stages, there have been spectacular moments. Roger Federer's shot that made the ball spin back over the net en route to beating Gaston Gaudio on Monday was followed by a breathtaking shot by Hewitt yesterday. He sprinted across the baseline and, without breaking stride, cracked a forehand winner down the line.

That gave Hewitt a break point at 3-3 in the final set. He converted, and Moya was unable to respond. Indeed, the Spaniard did well to take the match to three sets, considering he did not create a single break point.

Moya saved a set point before taking the first set tie-break, 7-5, taking advantage of a lapse in Hewitt's serving. The Australian, who finished with 15 aces, won the opening four games of the second set and looked the fresher in the decider.

Tim Henman, who has taken nothing other than vitamin C to help him play through a number of viral problems this season, yesterday welcomed an ATP initiative to standardise sports nutrition products in the wake of the nandrolone controversy.

Phase one, involving products such as drinks and energy bars, was announced yesterday. Phase two, addressing mineral and vitamin supplements, is still under negotiation.

"We need to use nutrition products to compete at our best," Henman said. "But we have been understandably too afraid to take anything." The British No 1 was treated recently for a magnesium deficiency.

Since Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, was exonerated after testing positive for nandrolone, a banned anabolic steroid, an extensive investigation has been carried out to trace the source of the problem.

The theory that ATP Tour trainers may have inadvertently distributed contaminated products was dismissed. None the less, an ATP Task Force on Supplements, formed last February with Henman a member, has recommended mandatory player education on supplements, diet and nutrition, and a major pharmaceutical company will produce, test and supply sports nutrition products to players.

GlaxoSmithKline, through its Lucozade Sports Academy, will produce products for ATP players with quality control and testing procedures in conjunction with a laboratory affiliated to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the International Tennis Federation and a member of Wada, said: "We welcome any information that could clarify that supplements are risky. We believe it is more a psychological advantage than a real one to take supplements."

Henman was scheduled to play his opening round-robin match last night at the Masters Cup here against Andy Roddick.

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