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BBC tennis correspondent Iain Carter
"It was a heavyweight contest"
 real 14k

Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 18:21 GMT
Safin wins Paris epic
Philippoussis checks on the injured Safin
Philippoussis checks on the injured Safin
US Open champion Marat Safin sealed his position as world number one as he defeated Mark Philippoussis in an epic five-setter to win the Masters Series in France.

The Russian prevailed 10-8 in the deciding tie-break to win his seventh title of the season and second in a row following his win in St Petersburg last week.

Second seed Safin suffered a cut above the right eye when he hit himself with his racket attempting a diving volley midway through the third set.

He resumed after being treated by a doctor at courtside - and promptly broke 13th-seeded Philippoussis' serve to take the set.


I think I'm playing great tennis and I've won enough tournaments to prove it
  Marat Safin

Blood

"When you see the blood you get scared," Safin said.

"But after two sets you don't want to give it away. It was very close, but if it had kept bleeding I would have had to stop the match."

He needed ice on the injury during changes of end to keep down the swelling, but finally won in three hours 28 minutes on his sixth match point, despite being battered and bloodied.

Safin had squandered five match points in the decisive tie-breaker before a Philippoussis' forehand error finally gave him the win.

"I was very lucky in the tie-breaker," Safin said. "Maybe one or two points made the difference."

Mark Philippoussis
Philippoussis saved five match points
The victory boosted Safin's ambitions of finishing the year as the world's top-ranked player, increasing his lead over Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten in the ATP Champions Race to 73 points.

Masters series

Safin became the only man this year to win two Masters Series events after also winning the Toronto event.

He earned $434,000 for his triumph, while Philippoussis collected $228,000 for his week's work.

The Russian was beaten by Andre Agassi in last year's final of this event and won it in only his second appearance at the Bercy Sports Arena.

Philippoussis believes his opponent justified his ranking as the best tennis player in the world.

He said: "I had three break points at five-all, 0-40, but I did nothing wrong. He hit two unbelievable volleys, then hit a lob.

"I did nothing wrong on those points. I've just got to come away positive with this week and learn from that match."

"Marat's played well all year and this is why he is number one in the world at the moment."

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See also:

18 Nov 00 |  Tennis
'Scud' destroys Kuerten
17 Nov 00 |  Tennis
Paris final four complete
16 Nov 00 |  Tennis
Rafter and Safin shine through
12 Nov 00 |  Tennis
Super Safin is top of the pile
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