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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 12:36 GMT
Safin overcomes Agassi
Marat Safin shows his relief
Russia's Marat Safin reached the Australian Open final with a dramatic victory over defending champion Andre Agassi.

The Russian showed great skill and athleticism to win 7-6 7-6 5-7 1-6 6-3.

Agassi, who is unbeaten in Melbourne since 1999, had points to win the first two sets but fell short in the tie-break both times.

But he claimed the next two sets before Safin broke in the fourth game of the decider and clung on for victory.

"I don't have the words to describe what I 'm feeling right now," said Safin.

"It was a great experience for me, to come back in the fifth set.

"I think I played one of my best matches in my whole life, probably.

"You have to play really great against Andre to beat him. I just couldn't feel any better."

Safin reached the Australian Open final in 2002 but was beaten by Sweden's Thomas Johansson.

"Two years ago, I had problems with myself. I couldn't play my best tennis. I was too nervous, too much under pressure.

"That's why I couldn't pull my best weapons in that final. But coming right now, I'm full of confidence and it's a completely different story."

Marat played at an incredibly high level
Andre Agassi
Safin's win ended Agassi's amazing 26-match unbeaten run in Melbourne.

The American has won the last three Australian Opens he has competed in, missing out only in 2002 while recuperating from wrist surgery.

"Marat played at an incredibly high level," Agassi admitted.

"I forced him to play at that level the whole time. Sometimes you just need a little luck at the right time. I had chances that went away."

The Russian will now face the winner of the second semi-final, between Juan Carlos Ferrero and Roger Federer.

Safin played only 13 tournaments last season because of a wrist injury and saw his ranking drop below 50 for the first time since 1997.





Links to more Australian Open 2004 stories


 

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Marat Safin
"It was a great match"


Andre Agassi
"Marat played at an incredible level"



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