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  Friday, 25 January, 2002, 10:35 GMT
Safin powers through
Marat Safin celebrates victory over Tommy Haas
Safin had to come from behind to claim victory
M Safin (Rus) bt T Haas (Ger) 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-0 6-2

Russia's Marat Safin has reached the final of the Australian Open after a thrilling five-set victory over Tommy Haas.

The ninth seed had to come from behind to seal victory against a determined Haas and guarantee a final with Sweden's Thomas Johansson.

The match was very much one of two parts - Haas' early domination was followed by the type of sparkling tennis which has made Safin the current tournament favourite.


Thanks God it rained... I had no chance to win if it didn't rain
Marat Safin

Perhaps the deciding influence in the match was a break for rain which came when Safin trailed by two sets to one.

50 minutes elapsed before the players returned to the arena which was now covered and the break clearly aided the Russian.

The winner agreed that the interval was pivotal to his performances.

"Thanks God it rained... I had no chance to win if it didn't rain," said a relieved Safin.

"But when it did I didn't give him any chance after the break. I totally changed the game. Served better, did everything better."

Safin came out after the break and captured the fourth set without losing a game, thrashing some huge serves past his bewildered opponent.

While Safin was hitting his serve and forehand with accuracy and power, Haas' backhand appeared to have unravelled.

Tommy Haas
Haas wilted in the fifth set
The Russian carried his momentum into the final set, breaking Haas to go 3-1 up and never looking like losing the lead.

At 5-2, Haas again appeared to buckle and the end of the match came with a tired looking double fault from the German.

The loser admitted after that fatigue layed a part in his slump during the final two sets.

"There was no excuse, I think. At the end my legs just didn't want to work," he said.

"I don't think the break helped me. When we came back we had to start again and he was on fire so there you go.

"I had been playing a good game, was in a groove but when we came out again everything was different. It just didn't go my way."

He had experienced better fortunes at the start of the match, where his guile and speed bemused Safin.


I had been playing a good game, was in a groove but when we came out again everything was different
Tommy Haas

In both of the first two sets, Haas made the first breaks, although on both occasions, Safin broke back.

Both were settle by tie-break, the first taken by Haas, the second by Safin.

Haas pulled off a spectacular Boris Becker-style dive to save break point in the fifth game of the third set, the ball just skimming the net to win the point, which was the catalyst to hold on to his serve.

He stepped up the tempo in the next game and broke Safin with a terrific backhand winner to lead 4-2.

Some determined serving allowed the German to take the set and matters looked grim for Safin.

He had already been given a code violation by English umpire Mike Morrissey for slamming his racket into the ground.

But by the time the final set came round, it was Haas on the receiving end of warnings from the chair - his spirit all but disappeared by Safin's electric burst after the resumption.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC tennis correspondent Iain Carter
"Safin used the 50 minutes off-court to refresh his drained body"
Russia's Marat Safin
"Thank God it started to rain"
Germany's Tommy Haas
"The break obviously didn't help me that much"
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