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Baghdatis downs moody Safin
January 17, 2008 19:53 IST
A frustrated Marat Safin [Images] exited the Australian Open on Thursday, beaten 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 by Cypriot 15th seed Marcos Baghdatis in an enthralling second-round battle in Melbourne.
In a high quality match, 2006 runner-up Baghdatis dominated the early stages but Safin roared back to level before the Cypriot came out on top in the decider after three hours, 13 minutes
"It was great tennis," Baghdatis said in a courtside interview. "Marat was playing great tennis, especially in the third and fourth sets, hitting all the lines.
"In the fifth set I tried to stay focused and I served very big. I'm very happy to win."
When Baghdatis won the first two sets it looked as if Safin would fall away but the former world number one lifted his game at the start of the third, showing the kind of form that took him to the title three years ago.
The Russian ripped through sets three and four but Baghdatis broke in the second game of the final set and again in the eighth to set up a third-round clash with another former world number one, Australian Lleyton Hewitt [Images].
Baghdatis, who lost at the second-round stage last year, began superbly, pulling Safin around the court and forcing the Russian into mistakes as he took the first set.
If he thought Safin would go away, though, he was mistaken.
The Russian recovered an early break to level at 4-4 in the second set, only to drop his serve in the next game, allowing Baghdatis to serve out for a two-sets lead.
Safin had shown his frustration with a familiar throw of his racket on a number of occasions, but he lifted his game again at the start of the third set.
An early break gave him confidence and he took the third set easily before breaking for a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
With his serve and backhand now working to perfection, he saved three break points in the ninth game to level the match.
Baghdatis looked out on his feet at the end of the fourth set but from somewhere he found a second wind and broke Safin in the second game to take control again.
Safin could not fight his way back again and though he battled hard, Baghdatis broke again in the eighth game to clinch victory.
"Marat made a few mistakes and I was a bit lucky," Baghdatis said.