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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January, 2005, 13:32 GMT
Hewitt tribute to 'awesome' Safin
Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin
Lleyton Hewitt insisted he could do nothing to prevent Marat Safin fighting back to win the Australian Open final.

"I didn't lose the match, he had to win it," said Hewitt after the four-set defeat. "I got out of the blocks well but he hadn't hit his stride.

"He's an awesome player and at no stage did I think it was going to carry on like that.

"Some of his hitting from the back of the court at the end of the third set and all of the fourth was incredible."

Hewitt went down 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 in two hours 45 minutes, and he added: "I didn't feel like I played that badly out there, he was just too good.

"I gave it everything I had."

Despite paying tribute to Safin, the Australian could not hide his disappointment at failing to become the first home winner since 1976.

Lleyton's a great player and he deals with pressure
Marat Safin

"I'm sure in a couple of days I will think it's a great achievement and have no regrets but right at the moment I'm human and I'm disappointed," he said.

"To come that close and train so hard and put yourself in position, it's hard to take at the moment, but my game is definitely better than 18 months ago."

And the Adelaide-born player was thankful for the support he enjoyed throughout the two weeks.

"It's an awesome feeling to have the whole country behind you," said Hewitt.

"The crowd and the adrenaline and playing in your home Grand Slam all combines to going out there and pushing yourself just that little bit further."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: Australian Open men's final


Interview: Lleyton Hewitt




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