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  Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 06:18 GMT
Johansson claims shock win
Thomas Johansson lifts the Australian open trophy
Johansson is the first Swede since 1988 to win the title
Thomas Johansson upset the odds to claim his first Grand Slam title by beating Marat Safin in the men's singles final at the Australian Open.

The 16th seed outplayed his Russian opponent to win 3-6 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-4) and become the first Swede since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win the title.

"I've been playing tennis for a long time and this is a dream for me to win a title like this," said Johansson.


I never thought that I was going to be a Grand Slam winner... I played my best tennis in almost every match
Thomas Johansson

"These two weeks, they've been the best two weeks in my life. It was unbelievable and I don't have words to say how happy I am."

Johansson also wins the perseverance award for making a Grand Slam final on his 25th attempt.

Australian Kim Warwick holds the all-time record, needing 32 tries before he made and lost the 1980 Australian Open final.

"I never thought that I was going to be a Grand Slam winner," said the Swede. "I played my best tennis in almost every match."

Safin, looking for his second Grand Slam title, had no answer to Johansson's clever tactic of mixing up the pace of the rallies.

"Today I was a favourite and I couldn't manage to win it. It was a good lesson for the future," said the Russian.

"He was overpowering me from the baseline - backhand to backhand. It's very unusual someone beats me at backhand.

Marat Safin loses his cool
Safin throws his racquet down in disgust
"I didn't play my best tennis, and when he broke me in the second set it changed the game completely. He was dominating and I couldn't come back."

But the tournament's ninth seed, who was playing the final on his 22nd birthday, accepted defeat philosophically.

"That happens, but you have to accept things as they are. He was too good, he played great," he said.

Johansson began to falter slightly as a famous victory came into sight.

But urged on by his vociferous supporters, he raced ahead in the fourth set tiebreak and sealed victory.

His win made him the lowest-ranked winner for 26 years and the first Swedish champion since Mats Wilander in 1988.

Despite being broken in the first game of the match, Johansson took the match to his opponent and dictated the play.

Johansson received plenty of backing from his countrymen
Swedish fans get behind their man
He was unable to retrieve the break in the first set and was unsettled by several controversial line calls but got his nose in front early in the second.

Safin grew increasingly frustrated as his opponent's clever tactics forced the Russian to run from side to side of the court.

The former US Open champion began to wilt and Johansson took the second and third sets.

When the Swede broke in the first game of the third, the writing looked on the wall for Safin.

But he found a second wind and forced the set into a tiebreak.

Johansson raced ahead and earned himself five championship points.

Safin saved four but a lob that drifted just long gave Johansson his first Grand Slam title.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Iain Carter - BBC Five LIve
"Johansson claimed his first Grand Slam title"
Thomas Johansson
"I was lucky to win today"
Marat Safin
"Thomas was too good for me"

Sports Talk SPORTS TALK
Jennifer Capriati defended her title against a resurgent Martina Hingis Aussie verdict
Your reactions to the Australian Open winners

BBC Sport Online profiles surprise Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson
Swede success

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