Organizers of the China Open have revealed they will throw a farewell party for former world No 1 Marat Safin during the Oct 3-11 WTA and ATP joint tournament.
The Russian, currently ranked No 60, was given a wildcard to take part in the $3.33 million ATP 500 event in the Chinese capital. He has repeatedly stated he will retire after this season due to a lack of inspiration and slumping performances on the tour.
The organizers believe the China Open is the ideal place for the 29-year-old to say goodbye to his Chinese fans. Safin won the 2004 inaugural edition of the tournament and went on to rejuvenate his career by winning his second and last Grand Slam at the 2005 Australian Open.
"Having a formal farewell party at the China Open shows how much Marat Safin appreciates the tournament he won and the Chinese fans that have been supporting him through the years," said tournament director Zhang Junhui.
"We are very willing to give him a happy memory."
Zhang said the organizers were asking for tips from fans, through an on-line survey, to decide the details of the party.
"It's up to them to decide everything," Zhang said.
Interestingly, organizers of the Shanghai Masters, which will be held right after the China Open, claimed they would also throw a similar farewell party. Safin also received a wildcard to the Shanghai event.
On the women's side, the Beijing event's organizers said they have awarded a wildcard to Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, a surprise semifinalist at the US Open earlier this month. The 19-year-old defeated highly-ranked players including Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine and China's Peng Shuai to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.
(China Daily September 25, 2009)