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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safin Targets Federer After Paris Victory

PARIS -- Marat Safin, back to his very best with a record-equaling third Paris Masters title on Sunday, hopes to be a match for world No. 1 Roger Federer next year.

The Russian, ranked No. 7 in the world, is the only player apart from Federer to have won back-to-back Masters Series tournaments this season, his Paris success following victory in Madrid last month.

Safin, who has experienced an erratic season, will sign off at next week's Masters Cup in Houston, where he will be able to gauge his form against seven of the game's leading players, including the Swiss No. 1.

"Nobody really looks forward to playing against Federer, under any circumstances, because the way he's playing right now, this year, is way too good," Safin told reporters.

"He was very solid, very stable, and he just was much better than other players -- much, much better. Even Roddick, although he improved a lot, he couldn't do much against Federer."

Federer won 10 tournaments in 2004, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open Grand Slam titles. He beat American Roddick in the Wimbledon final.

"Roddick played three, four finals this year, and Federer beat him quite easily," added Safin. "You have to be in really good condition to beat Roger.

"Next year, I will try to do my best and try to compete with him. That will be quite an effort for me.

"But it's quite a challenge to be at the same level as him. If he continues this way, he can be one of the greatest players of all time."

Safin was world No. 1 in 2000, the year he won his only Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open.

On Sunday, Safin comfortably beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to win the Paris final.

Safin had 16 aces against Stepanek, who was appearing in his first ATP final and struggled with Safin's brutal backhand passing shots.

Safin also won the Paris Masters in 2000 and '02, and was runner-up in 1999.

"I played solid, a pretty good level of tennis this week," Safin said. "I will have a couple of days off now and go back to Moscow. No tennis. Just private stuff.

"I've been playing for the last five weeks and I want to sleep in my bed ... finally."

 Top seed Amelie Mauresmo rallied to beat Russia's sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to complete a successful defense of her Advanta championship title in Philadelphia on Sunday.

It was the Frenchwoman's fifth title this year, and the 15th of her career. It improved her record to 5-0 against Zvonareva.

Mauresmo, who won the Linz Open a week ago, will hope to maintain her sparkling form at next week's season-ending WTA championships in Los Angeles.

Zvonareva will also make the trip to Los Angeles for the lucrative $3 million event, having secured her place in the elite eight-player field earlier in the week.

(Reuters, AP)