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Epic Semi-Final at Aussie Open

27.01.2005 | Tennis

Marat Safin gave himself the perfect birthday present by defeating Roger to reach the Australian Open final. Roger saw his hopes of a third consecutive grand slam title dashed as Russian fourth seed Safin twice fought back from a set down to win 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7 in 4h28min. It was a dream performance from Safin, who had been trounced in straight sets by Roger in last year's final, and was also a losing finalist at Melbourne Park in 2002. The Russian saved a match-point in the fourth set tie-break and then put his fans through the shredder when he squandered six match-points amid high tension in a marathon fifth set. But Safin finally clinched a win on his seventh match-point, when an exhausted Roger stumbled out wide leaving the Russian to send an easy forehand into an open court to win. Roger had called in trainer Paul Ness, who massaged his right forearm and elbow. Three games later, Ness returned to stretch out his back as he lay on the court. Roger said he felt some pain in his right arm, from the shoulder to his fingers. “It’s not an injury — it’s just something that was bothering me,” Roger said. The Russian's victory ended Roger’s 26-match winning streak, a run stretching back to his defeat in last August's Athens Olympics. Safin, celebrating his 25th birthday, will now play either second seed Andy Roddick or Lleyton Hewitt in Sunday's final.

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