WIMBLEDON, England - The day was unpleasant - dank and gray and worthy of producing grouches and grinches.
So maybe Marat Safin's mind and body were swallowed up by the ugliness of the weather yesterday. If there is another explanation for a world-ranked tennis player abandoning his pride and bailing out on a final point while being featured on a show court at Wimbledon, then whining about the difficulty of dragging his cranky self around the grass courts of Wimbledon, it might be best not to learn about it.
Safin, 24, the 19th seed, winner of one U.S. Open title and twice an Australian Open finalist, most recently in January, was summarily dismissed by 21-year-old Russian countryman Dmitry Tursunov, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), in a first-round surrender.
Tursunov, 21, is no slouch, having upset Gustavo Kuerten at last year's U.S. Open, but he is ranked only 70th in the world and is called "Surfer Dude" by his fellow Russians because he lives in Roseville, Calif., near Sacramento. This isn't a geography contest, after all, and the lack of surf in Roseville isn't common knowledge in Moscow.
Safin's incomprehensible squandering of talent, however, has become widely known.
On match point, Tursunov sent a whistling forehand passing shot skimming over the net and easily past an unmoving Safin, who shrugged, then walked away, a first-round loser at a place where he has been a quarterfinalist.
"I didn't feel like playing," Safin said. "I don't like to play on this surface. I don't feel like I'm moving. Every time, I don't know how it's going to bounce. So after a while, just, I get bored. I lost completely motivation and I give up."
There was an antidote for Safin's surliness and the uninviting weather, which left play suspended early and such stars as second-seeded Andy Roddick and third-seeded Guillermo Coria with unfinished business. Roddick was up 4-2 over Taiwanese qualifier Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, and Coria, into the second day of his first-round match against Wesley Moodie, was up, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 5-3, 30-30.
Mark Philippoussis was the day-brightener. Last year's unseeded finalist arrived without having won a match in five months. Still, Wimbledon's seeding committee put him 11th, and after his emphatic 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 pounding of Belgium's Christophe Rochus, a qualifier, Philippoussis was reverential in his appreciation of the moment.
"If you're not going to switch on at this tournament, then there's no use playing," he said. "Might as well put the rackets in the closet."
Tim Henman, trying for the 11th time to win his home country's title, lost the first set to Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, a 26-year-old Spaniard who had never won a Grand Slam match, and was down two set points in the second.
But "Our Tim" righted himself and pleased partisans packed into Court 1 and the thousands of others waving Union Jacks and sitting on the damp grass of Henman Hill, watching on a big-screen television. Henman recovered and won, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-2.
And Sandra Kleinova, a 26-year-old Czech journeywoman who had been 0-6 here, burst into tears before she reached the net to receive congratulations from her upset victim, sixth-seeded French Open finalist Elena Dementieva. Kleinova called her 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 victory "my best life moment because this is the best tournament."
There were more than the usual number of first-round upsets in the women's draw, which usually provides none. Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded eighth and another rising Russian who had won a Wimbledon warm-up Saturday, was knocked out by 118th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4. And 17th-seeded Chanda Rubin, playing in her 12th Wimbledon, squandered a 5-0 first-set lead and lost to Marion Bartoli of France, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Defending women's champion Serena Williams wasn't threatened with a loss in her first-round 6-3, 6-1 win over Jie Zheng of China, but she wasn't dominant, either. Williams whacked 24 unforced errors, faced 10 break points and grew testy when asked about it.
But Williams redeemed her reputation by speaking enthusiastically about England's soccer team, which has advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Championships. She correctly named rising star Wayne Rooney as the man of the moment and said she had screeched happily Monday night when England beat Croatia.
Among those who advanced through the rain yesterday were ninth-seeded Carlos Moya and Americans Mardy Fish, the 14th seed, and Jan-Michael Gambill. American Meghan Shaughnessy, the 32nd seed, also made it to the second round.
And a record was set when South African Wayne Ferreira upset 28th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-2. This made 55 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played by Ferreira, beating by one the record of Stefan Edberg.
Afterward, Ferreira spoke wearily of the drudgery of tennis tour life. Safin would have approved.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Karol Kucera, Slovakia, def. Oscar Hernandez, Spain, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Florian Mayer, Germany, def. Wayne Arthurs, Australia, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4). Mardy Fish (14), United States, def. Ivan Navarro Pastor, Spain, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Feliciano Lopez (18), Spain, def. Richard Bloomfield, Britain, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. Dmitry Tursunov, Russia, def. Marat Safin (19), Russia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (1).
Jan-Michael Gambill, United States, def. Max Mirnyi (23), Belarus, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Cyril Saulnier, France, def. Michael Llodra, France, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3). Sargis Sargsian, Armenia, def. Marc Lopez, Spain, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Lu Yen-hsun, Taiwan, def. Jan Vacek, Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Joachim Johansson, Sweden, def. Arnaud Clement, France, 6-2, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7).
Tim Henman (5), Britain, def. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, Spain, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-2. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, def. Ivan Ljubicic (28), Croatia, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-2. Carlos Moya (9), Spain, def. Olivier Patience, France, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1. Irakli Labadze, Georgia, def. Kristof Vliegen, Belgium, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Mark Philippoussis (11), Australia, def. Christophe Rochus, Belgium, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Ivo Heuberger, Switzerland, def. Flavio Saretta, Brazil, 5-7, 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (9). Xavier Malisse, Belgium, def. Jiri Novak (16), Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Martin Verkerk, Netherlands, def. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Alexander Peya, Austria, def. Jeff Salzenstein, United States, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Hicham Arazi (32), Morocco, def. Andre Sa, Brazil, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
Albert Montanes, Spain, def. Bohdan Ulihrach, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Andy Roddick (2), United States, leads Wang Yeu-tzuoo, Taiwan, 4-2, 40-40, susp., rain. Guillermo Coria (3), Argentina, leads. Wesley Moodie, South Africa, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 5-3, 30-30, susp., rain. Mark Hilton, Britain, leads Albert Costa, Spain, 5-1, susp., rain. Tommy Robredo (20), Spain, leads Potito Starace, Italy, 6-4, 6-4, 3-3, 30-0, susp., rain.
Jonathan Marray, Britain, leads Karol Beck, Slovakia, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-1, susp., rain. Taylor Dent (26), United States, leads Ramon Delgado, Paraguay, 6-2, 6-3, 5-4, susp., rain. Vince Spadea (30), United States, leads Todd Reid, Australia, 1-1, 40-30, susp., rain. David Ferrer, Spain, leads Victor Hanescu, Romania, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-6 (2-3), susp., rain. Alexander Popp, Germany, leads Nicolas Massu (15), Chile, 6-2, 4-4, 15-0, susp., rain.
Robin Soderling, Sweden, leads Rainer Schuettler (8), Germany, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0, susp., rain. Dennis van scheppingen, Netherlands, leads Stefano Pescosolido, Italy, 6-4, 6-4, 2-3, susp., rain. Antony Dupuis, France, leads Tommy Haas, Germany, 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (8), 2-3, susp., rain. Galo Blanco, Spain, leads Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, 6-4, 2-3, susp., rain.
Nuria Llagostera Vives, Spain, def. Petra Mandula, Hungary, 6-3, 6-3. Elena Bovina (20), Russia, def. Edina Gallovits, Romania, 6-1, 6-2. Tamarine Tanasugarn, Thailand, def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Germany, 6-2, 6-0. Maria Elena Camerin, Italy, def. Anca Barna, Germany, 7-5, 6-2. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, def. Samantha Reeves, United States, 6-1, 6-4.
Meghann Shaughnessy (32), United States, def. Marissa Irvin, United States, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0). Marion Bartoli, France, def. Chanda Rubin (17), United States, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Serena Williams (1), United States, def. Zheng Jie, China, 6-3, 6-1. Sandra Kleinova, Czech Republic, def. Elena Dementieva (6), Russia, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. Maria Vento-Kabchi, Venezuela, def. Martina Sucha, Slovakia, 6-1, 6-0.
Nadia Petrova (10), Russia, def. Flavia Pennetta, Italy, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Stephanie Foretz, France, def. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, France, 6-1, 6-3. Jane O'Donoghue, Britain, def. Lindsay Lee-Waters, United States, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Emmanuelle Gagliardi, Switzerland, def. Tara Snyder, United States, 3-3, retired. Elena Baltacha, Britain, def. Marta Marrero, Spain, 6-1, 6-3.
Karolina Sprem, Croatia, def. Laura Granville, United States, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. Klara Koukalova, Czech Republic, def. Jelena Jankovic, Serbia-Montenegro, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Patty Schnyder (15), Switzerland, def. Akiko Morigami, Japan, 6-4, 6-1. Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, def. Gala Leon Garcia, Spain, 6-2, 6-2. Virginie Razzano, France, def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (8), Russia, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4.
Nathalie Dechy (25), France, def. Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain, 6-3, 6-4. Magui Serna, Spain, def. Eleni Daniilidou (30), Greece, 6-4, 6-2. Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, Spain, leads Katie O'Brien, Britain, 6-4, 5-4, 0-15, susp., rain.