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Since 1st March, 1999
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Prakash scalps Safin
- Amritraj Jr Indian No. 1 after Russian star retires with injury

Los Angeles: Prakash Amritraj scalped former US Open champion Marat Safin in the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

The Russian’s comeback from injury was short-lived as he was forced to retire in the closing stages of the first set with the Indian serving to wrap it up at 5-3.

Sixth-seeded Safin, who has been out of action since April with a left wrist injury, was clearly in discomfort from the start of his match against the elder son of former Indian star Vijay Amritraj and finally threw in the towel after close to half an hour.

Having first picked up the injury during January’s Australian Open, Safin indicated this latest setback could stop him from playing the rest of the year.

“I got injured, I felt a lot of pain in my wrist, I could not hit a backhand so I decided to stop,” said a dejected Safin.

Ahead of Bopanna

A Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: The upset over Safin gave Prakash 15 points which takes his tally to 96 and will push his ATP ranking from 351 to around 315. More significantly, it will make him the highest-ranked Indian — taking him past Rohan Bopanna.

Bopanna lost in the first round of the Denver Challenger on Tuesday, thus failing to add to his kitty (95 points). His ranking will stay around world No. 320. Harsh Mankad, who won his first match in Denver, is currently No. 364.

Prakash is still based in the US but has been entering tournaments as an Indian since turning pro in May. He is eligible to play for India in Davis Cup and should be in Ramesh Krishnan’s team to take on The Netherlands in September’s away World Group play-off tie.

Prakash won a round at last week’s RCA Championships too, mastering Argentine Sergio Roitman (world No. 140) in three sets before su ccumbing to German Nicolas Kiefer in straight sets. Last month, he won three back-to-back ITF Satellite titles in India last month.

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