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Safin to Face Tillstrom in Mallorca

May 6, 2000

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Balearic Islands (AP) _ Russian Marat Safin had it easy, while Sweden’s Mikael Tillstrom had to battle as both gained berths in Mallorca Open championship on Saturday.

The final of the $475,000 ATP Tour event will be played Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Safin sailed through his semifinal match against Spaniard Galo Blanco 6-2, 6-2. Tillstrom came from behind to stop Argentina’s Marcelo Puerta 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Safin’s appearance in the final at Palma’s specially adapted bullring comes one year after he was knocked out of the same tournament in the first round. Ranked 35th in the world, the Russian is on a winning streak after he took the Seat-Godo Open in Barcelona, Spain, last Sunday.

``Safin is the best player in the world on clay this moment. His confidence is incredible after winning in Barcelona and his strokes are shattering’, said Tillstrom.

After losing the first set, Tillstrom staged a devastating comeback to defeat Puerta in a two-hour game.

``But I feel proud of being in the final. If tomorrow I beat Safin, there will be a complete fiesta,″ Tillstrom said.