Every morning during the U.S. Open, Richard Pagliaro will take a look back at a significant match that took place on that calendar day.
September 3, 2000: Marat Safin d. Sebastien Grosjean, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (5) (Third Round)
Marat Safin squandered a two-set lead, weathered two long rain delays, returned to court dressed in clothes borrowed from Jeff Tarango and Nicolas Kiefer, and ultimately stitched together a thrilling victory over Sebastien Grosjean in one of the most dramatic and adventurous U.S. Open victories in years.
At 4-4 in the fifth set, the skies opened and an 85-minute rain delay ensued. Safin, who packed only one pair of socks in his bag, borrowed a new pair from Jeff Tarango and took a 5-4 lead in the fifth-set breaker, before another rain delay suspended play for an hour and 45 minutes. Safin borrowed an entire outfit from fellow adidas endorser Nicolas Kiefer before returning to court to wrap up an eventful win.
“When you go to the court from the locker room, you are scared,” Safin said of the delays. “You think too much on the locker room. I think you can become crazy like this.”
Grosjean actually won 14 more points in the match (170 to 156) and converted more break points (five to two), but Safin, who in those days had such a reputation for being a head case that he was fined by the ATP for tanking earlier in the season (a charge Safin denied), played some of his best tennis in the tiebreakers.
Safin would go on to beat Kiefer (wearing his own clothes instead of Kiefer’s apparel) in the quarterfinals before demolishing Pete Sampras in the final, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. The day after he shocked Sampras to win his first Grand Slam title, Safin showed his charm and sense of humor on the David Letterman show (above) revealing he had celebrated his historic victory with “Vodka.”
“You don't drink regularly do you?" Letterman asks in the video above. "Every day," Safin replies with a sly smile.