Tired Safin Makes Early Olympic Exit

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SYDNEY, Australia Barely 24 hours after arriving in Australia, U.S. Open champion Marat Safin was bounced out of the Olympic tennis tournament by Frenchman Fabrice Santoro 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The top mens seed won the Presidents Cup on Monday in Uzbekistan. But the wear and tear of the last month finally caught up with him.

"For sure, its a great win for me," said the 27-year-old Santoro, ranked 35th in the world. "He won the Open two weeks ago and he is the leader in the ATP race. It is a big win."

A disappointed Safin said, "I couldnt help my country and Im angry at myself because I cant fight for the gold medal and I cant make the No. 1 in the world."

Lindsay Davenport, the top-seeded woman and defending gold medalist, won her opening match against Paolo Suarez of Argentina, 6-2, 6-2. That made the U.S. women 3-0, with No. 2 Venus Williams and No. 3 Monica Seles winning Tuesday.

"The competition is very strong here, mostly from my teammates," Davenport said. "Obviously we would like to sweep the medals. We think we have a good chance to do that."

No. 10 Russian Yelena Dementieva, a semifinalist at the U.S. Open earlier this month, eliminated wildcard Miroslava Vavrinec of Switzerland 6-1, 6-1. No. 14 Ai Sugiyama of Japan lost to Australian Jelena Dokic 6-0, 7-6 (1).

In mens play, No. 7 Tim Henman of Britain lost to Karol Kucera of Slovakia 6-3, 6-2. No. 12 Marcelo Rios of Chile dropped the final five games and lost to Argentine Mariano Zabaleta 6-7 (8), 6-4, 7-5. Tommy Haas of Germany beat No. 14 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-5, 6-2.

While the U.S. women were doing well, their compatriots had less luck, with only Jeff Tarango, a player best known for his tongue and temper, advancing to the second round.

Making his Olympic debut at age 31, Tarango beat wild card Diego Camacho of Bolivia 6-0, 6-1. No. 16 Michael Chang then lost to wild card Sebastien Lareau of Canada 7-6 (6), 6-3, joining Todd Martin and Vince Spadea on the sidelines.

A grim Chang shook his head when asked about the disappointing U.S. mens showing.

"I cant find the words to tell you," he said.

Tarango became the oldest man to compete for the United States in Olympic tennis since Titanic survivor Richard Norris Williams, who played in the 1924 Games at age 32. Williams was no relation to the Richard Williams who is Venus father.

Tarango had no trouble against Camacho, a 17-year-old who has no professional ranking. Tarango swept the first 10 games and completed the victory in 49 minutes.