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Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 18:25 UK

Safina edges Mauresmo under roof

WIMBLEDON
Date: 22 June - 5 July
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Centre Court roof

Highlights - roof closes as Safina wins

By Ian Westbrook
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Dinara Safina survived a titanic battle with Amelie Mauresmo in a match which made history as the first to take place under the Centre Court roof.

Play was suspended with the top seed 4-1 up in the second set and the players resumed under cover.

Mauresmo hit back from 3-0 down to win the first set but Safina played much better in the second to level.

The 17th seed raced into a 3-0 lead in the third but Safina staged a superb comeback to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

A see-saw contest will probably be remembered more for the use of the roof rather than anything which went on on the court.

606: DEBATE

There were huge cheers from the spectators when the covers were pulled over the court for the first time in these Championships and the prospect of the roof being used became a reality.

The players were off the court for just over half an hour and when they returned were allowed a full five-minute warm-up before continuing their contest.

Both agreed afterwards that they enjoyed the experience of playing under the roof.

"It was great to play under it," Safina told BBC Sport. "It was very nice and the atmosphere was getting louder. The conditions didn't feel any different and everything was perfect."

Mauresmo said: "It makes the conditions a little bit different and it took a little time to adjust to the ball flying more.

"Visually when the ball is in the air, overhead it's very bright but it's good and is a plus definitely for the tournament.

"We haven't seen any really bad days so far but I remember a few editions of Wimbledon when we would really have needed a roof so it's a good thing."

Safina had started the match in blistering style by racing into a 3-0 lead before the match changed dramatically.

Mauresmo held serve for the first time and then had three break points on the Safina serve - converting the last of them to get right back into the contest.

Dinara Safina
Safina is in the quarter-finals for the first time

After holding her own serve Mauresmo broke again after a double fault from the world number one and then she held again to lead 5-3 before wrapping up the set in 39 minutes.

The 17th seed broke again at the start of the second set but threw away a 40-15 lead in the next game as Safina broke back and then broke again to lead 3-1.

The Russian was 4-1 up when the players were rushed off court and when they returned under the roof she won the historic first point and quickly polished off the set.

It seemed that Mauresmo was not going to let her earlier hard work go to waste and now it was her turn to open up a 3-0 lead with some powerful strokes as Safina started to make mistakes again.

But this match was not over as once again the top seed showed why she is currently ranked as the world's top player, clawing her way back to level the set with some tremendous backhands.

It was anybody's match now and after Mauresmo held, she had two break points on the Safina serve to go 5-3 up but the world number one saved them and held her serve to leave the set at 4-4.

It proved crucial as Safina took the second of two break points in the next game to leave herself serving for the match.

Centre Court roof is 'great' - Safina

Two poor returns from the 2006 champion enabled the Russian to have three match points and she took the second of them to move into the quarter-finals.

Safina added: "It was a great match and I had to bring my best tennis to beat her.

"She played some really good tennis but even though she played her best I managed to turn back the match and win it. I am really happy.

"At 3-0 down in the final set I was really disappointed and I had hardly won but at 3-1 I started to play better and better and to go for my shots."



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see also
Safina v Mauresmo as it happened
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Roof is welcome Wimbledon addition
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Roof rolled out at Centre Court
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