Federer Pounds Weary Safin for Oz Title

Posted on February 2, 2004

"The Swiss Don't Miss" said a sign held up by a fan during the Australian Open final, and that became apparent as No. 2 seed Roger Federer slowly wore down an exhausted Marat Safin 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-2 in the Sunday championship for his second slam title following last year at Wimbledon.

Safin came into the final with the most sets played of any slam finalist in the Open Era after five-set wins over Todd Martin, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi.

"I just ran out of gas," Safin said. "I was too tired to keep up with him. I had to be there from the beginning to the end. I needed some extra energy to stay there. My legs were just too tired to do all this job. I had a chance in the first set and if I had won the first set, it might have been a different story."

Safin's mighty serve failed him in the final, with three aces, well below his average during the tournament of more that 20 per match, as did his consistency. Federer had 40 winners to 28 unforced errors, while the Russian had 19 winners to 41 unforced errors.

"What a great start to the year for me, winning the Open and becoming number one in the world," the Swiss said after pocketing $911,800 (US). "I played great from the first match on...that Wimbledon victory for me was such a dream, such a relief, now I know that I can do it. Now this -- it is amazing."

Federer will become No. 1 for the first time when the ATP Rankings are released on Monday.

Here is a list of the 23 players who have ranked No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973):

Roger Federer (SUI) 1 week at No. 1 (beginning next week)
Andy Roddick (USA) 13 weeks
Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 8
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 80
Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) 43
Marat Safin (RUS) 9
Patrick Rafter (AUS) 1
Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) 6
Carlos Moya (ESP) 2
Marcelo Rios (CHI) 6
Thomas Muster (AUT) 6
Andre Agassi (USA) 101
Pete Sampras (USA) 286
Jim Courier (USA) 58
Boris Becker (GER) 12
Stefan Edberg (SWE) 72
Mats Wilander (SWE) 20
Ivan Lendl (CZE) 270
John McEnroe (USA) 170
Bjorn Borg (SWE) 109
Jimmy Connors (USA) 268
John Newcombe (AUS) 8
Ilie Nastase (ROM) 40

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Roger Federer
only dropped two sets en route to this year's Aussie Open title, and only one at Wimbledon last year. How many will slams will Roger win? Eight seems the conservative estimate by many...Marat Safin has never come back from an 0-2 set deficit. How nice is it to have Marat back? And kudos to the girl-woman Dasha, who we hear is of Russian decent but is an American citizen. Good for those kids. For the two weeks in Oz, Safin played in 307 games total, a new Open Era record. He also played in 30 of a possible 35 sets, which ties him with Harold Solomon at 1976 Roland Garros for that lead...Nice to see Nenad Zimonjic in Marat's player box cheering on his Russian friend. Roger Federer has won 17 of his last 18 slam matches....Fans without a Rod Laver seat for the finale could purchase lawn tix (grounds pass) for $15 AUS and watch on the big screen. Many did...Off-site Saturday, Roger Federer was presented with a cake and plaque by ATP CEO Mark Miles for reaching the world No. 1 spot. For comparison sake, Juan Carlos Ferrero got nothing from the ATP when he won his US Open semifinal to first ascend to No. 1. Oh yeah, forgot, that was in the US, the land of Andy Roddick...The men's singles final at the Australian Open will be played on Sunday night beginning in 2005 after organizers struck a new television deal with local broadcasters...Martina Navratilova says Justine Henin-Hardenne is No. 1 by default: "As great as Justine Henin has been playing, there's an asterisk because really Serena (Williams) lost the No. 1 ranking by not being around, not by losing it."...Elena Bovina and Nenad Zimonjic, teaming for the first time, defeated defending champions Martina Navratilova and Leander Paes on Sunday to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title...Feliciano Lopez may play singles for Spain's Davis Cup team for next week's first round tie against the Czech Republic after Carlos Moya was forced to pull out with injury.