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Safin doubts Aussie Open return

Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January - 1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, BBC One & Two (including all Andy Murray matches), Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)

Marat Safin waves to the crowd after his defeat by Roger Federer
Safin lost to Roger Federer in what is likely to be his last match in Melbourne

Former champion Marat Safin says he doubts he will play at the Australian Open again.

After losing to Roger Federer, who he beat on his way to winning the title in 2005, the Russian reiterated his plans to retire this year.

"I don't like this bye-bye part. I prefer to leave this way, quietly, nice, with a great match," he said.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't do better but I lost today probably to one of the greatest players in history."

Safin indicated before the Australian Open that he was planning to retire at some point this season.

He appeared to be back to somewhere approaching his best as he roared into the third round without dropping set.

He's the most complete tennis player in the history of tennis

Marat Safin on Roger Federer

Despite putting up a spirited fight in the third set, he was outclassed by world number two Federer, going down 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.

It was his 10th defeat in 12 meetings with the 13-times Grand Slam champion.

This was their third meeting in Melbourne; Federer beat Safin to win the 2004 final before the Russian produced one of the finest performances of his career to win their 2005 semi-final.

"It was one of the greatest matches I ever played in my life probably," said Safin.

"I always struggled to play against Federer because he just doesn't give me any rhythm. He knows what to do in exact moment of the match. He knows what I'm going to do.

"To win that match was a huge thing. I never played any better."

He added: "He's probably the best I've faced. He's the most complete tennis player in the history of tennis, that's for sure, with all due respect to (Andre) Agassi and (Pete) Sampras and the rest of the gang."

Federer said he hoped he would play Safin again before his rival retired.

"I love playing against the guy. He brings something different to the tennis world with his character, the way he is on the court and the way he is off the court. He's larger than life.

"I respect him for what a competitor he is. I hope it's not the last one tonight."

Safin won his first Grand Slam title in 2000 when he routed the previously untouchable Pete Sampras in a one-sided US Open final.

He claimed the world number one ranking later that year and held it for nine weeks.


But the Russian - famed for his on-court meltdowns - struggled with injury as well as inconsistency.

He suffered a shock defeat by Thomas Johansson at the 2002 Australian Open final before losing to Federer two years later.

He finally got his hands on the trophy in 2005 when he beat home favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the final.

Since then, Safin has shown only flashes of his best, not least at Wimbledon last year where he reached the semi-finals on a surface he has openly admitted he despises.

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see also
Federer eases past Safin in style
23 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Safin bruised after Moscow fight
04 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Safin may quit after Paris defeat
27 Oct 08 |  Tennis
Aussie Open day five photos
23 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Order of play
19 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
07 Jan 09 |  Tennis

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