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Safin's upset sets up an exciting year ahead: Federer

Tennis does not come much better than the unpredictable Russian's superb five-set win late on Thursday that ended the world no. 1's unbeaten 26-match run.
PTI | By Robert Smith (AFP), Melbourne
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2005 11:22 PM IST

Roger Federer says Marat Safin's spectacular win over him has set up an exciting year ahead for men's tennis.

Tennis does not come much better than the unpredictable Russian's superb five-set win late on Thursday that ended the world number one's unbeaten 26-match run stretching back to last August.

World number four Safin also became the first top-10 player to conquer the world number one after 24 straight wins since Federer last lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in October 2003.

Federer was zeroing in on his third consecutive grand slam title after winning three majors last year along with the season-ending Masters Cup in Houston.

It became a question of who was going to stop the Fed Express. Safin stepped up on Thursday to answer the question.

The world's top four players all won through to the Australian Open semi-finals in a vintage year for the year's first grand slam.

"I'm very happy to see that all four guys again were in the semis, like in Houston," Federer said after his 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7 semi-final loss late on Thursday.

"For this reason it's an exciting tournament, an exciting future for tennis, for the men's game especially.

"I'm looking forward to maintain my number one ranking in the future and beat them again."

Federer graciously conceded that Safin was the better player in their 4hr 28min duel that captivated the capacity Rod Laver Arena crowd and a national television audience until well after midnight local time.

"Losing after having match point is always going to hurt, no matter how great the match was," the Swiss ace said.

"But at least you can leave the place feeling good about yourself because I thought I gave it all I had, and that's all I got.

"He was the better player in the end, because we don't have ties or draws in tennis. So the winner is the better man, and that's him.

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