Safin falls in second round

July 20, 2006 11:20 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Wesley Whitehouse, a 27-year-old South African ranked 512th in the world, upset former world No. 1 Marat Safin 6-1, 6-4 in the second round of the RCA Championships on Wednesday.

Whitehouse, who has battled a series of injuries since turning pro in 1997 and had won only one ATP Tour match before making the Indianapolis event as a qualifier, won 87 percent of his first-serve points in each set.

"I'm obviously playing very well. I have been for the last two, three weeks,'' said Whitehouse, who had to win three matches to reach the main draw.

Whitehouse, the 1997 Wimbledon junior champion, has never been ranked higher than 214th.

"Last year I was ready to quit. I just feel all of my work is paying off,'' Whitehouse said.

Safin fell to 12-12 in singles matches this year.

"He was serving well,'' said Safin, who was seeded 16th after making the tournament as a wild card. "I have to work on a lot of things.''

Whitehouse advanced to face top-seeded James Blake, a 7-6 (5), 6-4 winner over Danai Udomchoke of Thailand.

"When you're not playing your best tennis and you win it's the greatest feeling,'' said Blake, who overcame an 0-2 deficit to take the opening set with the help of a successful challenge in the tiebreaker. "He (Udomchoke) doesn't have a huge weapon or a big serve, but he's crafty.''

Fifth-seeded Tommy Haas and No. 9 Xavier Malisse also had straight-set victories.

Haas beat George Bastl of Switzerland 6-3, 6-3.

"This is all a build up to the U.S. Open,'' said Haas, making his first appearance in the event since losing in the 2002 semifinals to eventual champion Greg Rusedski.

"It is hot here, and then we go to another (Los Angeles) where it is also hot,'' said Haas, the German who is on pace to have his most successful year since being sidelined for more than a year by two shoulder surgeries.

The victory gave him a 31-12 record this year, including tournament victories at Delray Beach and Memphis. He's currently 21st in the ATP Tour rankings, only two matches short of his victory total for all of last year.

"I really feel like I'm in my second career,'' said Haas, who climbed to the No. 2 world ranking in 2002 before being hit by a series of injuries.

"If I'm healthy, I'm tough to beat under these conditions (heat and hardcourts),'' he said. ``You go from hardcourts, to clay, to grass, back to hardcourts, it is tough to get used to. This is the first (in a series) hardcourt tournament and you just have to get used to it. The footing, I like it and I think I can move better on it.''

Malisse used a strong serve to oust Lee Hyung-taik of South Korea, 7-6 (4), 6-1. Malisse had 12 aces and won 76 percent (29-of-36) of his first serve points. He also won 60 percent of his second serve points and never had a break point against him. Lee didn't face a break point in the first set, but came apart when he was broken at deuce in his first service game of the second set.

Malisse jumped to a 5-0 advantage in the second set and closed the set with an ace.

In another upset, No. 6 seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia and ranked 22 in the world lost to Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark, 6-3, 6-3. Carlsen, No. 123 in the ATP rankings, saved 10 of 11 break points during the match while winning 83 percent of his first serve points (15-of-18).

Others advancing to the third round at the Indianapolis Tennis Center included 12th-seeded Gilles Muller, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Paul Capdeville; No. 7 Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, who was leading 6-3, 5-7, 2-1 when German Benjamin Becker retired due to heat exhaustion; No. 8 Paradorn Srichaphan, a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4 winner over qualifier Wayne Arthurs; and No. 16 Igor Kunitsyn of Russia over Lars Burgsmuller of Germany, 7-5, 6-2.