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Safina ends Dokic's brave run at Australian Open
January 27, 2009 17:58 IST
Dokic's emotionally-charged run at Melbourne Park had captured the imagination of her adopted homeland but her luck finally ran out against the in-form Safina.
Tuesday's see-sawing quarter-final was still in the balance after the pair split the first two sets and were level at 4-4 in the third when Safina got the decisive break off a Dokic error then served out the match.
The Russian advanced to her third grand slam semi-final in eight months and stayed on course to emulate her big brother Marat Safin [Images] by winning the Australian Open.
"I'm so sorry for beating (an) Australian tonight," Safina told the crowd during a courtside interview. "I hope you will be behind me next time."
Dokic, who is ranked 187th in the world and beat three seeded players just to get to the quarter-finals, was upbeat about her prospects for the rest of the year despite the result.
"Of course I'm disappointed," she said. "But there are more positives than negatives.
"It's been a great start to 2009, I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Dokic made a nervous start to the match, dropping her opening service game and racking up 18 unforced errors in the first set.
She managed to break Safina's serve to level at 3-3 before a mistake off her forehand cost her another break and Safina pounced to claim the first set in 36 minutes.
Dokic opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set but her erratic serve continued to haunt her. Twice in the set, she broke Safina's serve only to lose her own immediately.
Despite that she still won the set when she broke in the 10th game after Safina double-faulted, triggering thunderous applause from the parochial crowd at the Rod Laver centre court.
Safina, 22, seized control of the third set with an early break but Dokic broke back to level at 4-4. However any hopes of another Dokic comeback were dashed when Safina broke again then held her nerve to seal victory.
Safina plays compatriot Vera Zvonareva [Images] in the semi-finals, ensuring there will be at least one Russian woman in the final for the third year running.
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