Ivanisevic Returns to Old Form To Defeat Kiefer in Milan
2 February 2001
By Simon Evans, REUTERS
MILAN, Italy - Goran Ivanisevic battled back to beat Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the Milan indoor tournament on Wednesday, while Russia's Marat Safin booked his place in the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 win over another German David Prinosil.
Ivanisevic beat Kiefer 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, showing signs of his old self, but then revealed he will need a shoulder operation later this year.
Top seed Safin won the first set comfortably enough but struggled in the second against the stocky German, who four times lost advantage on set point, before a trademark Safin ace took the game.
Having regained his composure Safin then took the final game to line up a second-round match against Belgian Xavier Malisse.
But Safin admitted he had found it tough going against Prinosil, who robbed him of glory on home soil last season when he defeated the Russian in the semifinals at the Kremlin Cup.
'These kinds of matches can be big trouble,' said Safin, 'The first set was okay, in fact it went perfectly, but the second set was different. You just have to win these games and it is good for confidence.
While Safin is seeking to maintain the blistering start to his career, 29-year-old Ivanisevic, a wild card in the event, who has not won a major title in two years, is looking to regain former glories.
Against Kiefer he lost the first set and trailed 0-40 in the first game of the second but rallied to win 6-2 against the fourth seed.
With the crowd behind him and his once famed serve proving effectual he raced to victory in the third set, showing glimpses of his old form.
Ivanisevic will now face a second-round match with the Czech Republic's Bohdan Ulihrach and he clearly enjoyed his victory over an out-of-sorts Kiefer.
'It feels nice to win against a good opponent - it has been a long time,' said the Croat, 'Last week I won four matches in the Challenger Tournament in Germany and that did me a lot of good.'