On This Day: Roger Federer wins first Australian Open title
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 2312
Roger Federer claimed his first Australian Open crown on February 1, 2004. Roger took down Marat Safin 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 15 minutes to lift his second Major crown and become world no. 1. A year earlier, Federer played 95 matches and conquered Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, becoming the ATP throne contender.
The Swiss got there after winning the 2004 Australian Open, starting his reign that would last for four and a half years. Safin came to Melbourne as world no. 86 after injuries, playing well and returning to the title clash.
A former finalist produced first-class tennis to reach the title match. He beat the defending champion Andre Agassi and the top seed Andy Roddick but lost too much energy in those encounters ahead of the final showdown. Safin dropped nine sets in the first six meetings, including five-setters against the mentioned Americans in the previous two rounds.
Thus, he stood done and dusted when Roger claimed the opener in the tie break, with nothing left in the tank in the third set. They both struggled to find the first serve. However, Federer played against just three break chances, dropping serve twice and mounting the pressure on Safin all the time.
The Swiss earned 18 break chances and seized five to win in straight sets. Roger had a clear advantage in the shortest points, producing much damage with his booming serve and an initial forehand that left Marat with no answer.
Despite his tiredness, the Russian had a slim edge in the mid-range and more extended exchanges. Still, more was needed to give him a more favorable result, facing too many break points to stand any chance against such a strong rival.
Safin was off to a great start after breaking Roger in game three when the Swiss netted an easy forehand. Federer did not have to chase the result for too long. He broke back a few minutes later with a solid forehand attack that Safin failed to control.
Roger delivered another break in game six to take a 4-2 lead and gain a boost. Marat was there to compete.
Roger Federer defeated Marat Safin in the 2004 Australian Open final.
He pulled the break back in the next game after forcing Roger's error with his trademark backhand down the line shot that the Swiss could not handle.
Safin was in all kinds of trouble at 5-6, coming from 40-15 down to fend off two set points and set up the tie break. It started with four consecutive mini-breaks, and Federer seized control after that. The Swiss clinched the set with a forehand down the line winner in the tenth point and gained a massive boost, leaving tired Safin almost without a chance of making a comeback.
The level of tennis dropped a little bit in set number two. Federer grabbed the first break at 2-2 and held at love to cement the break and gain complete control. Marat broke his second racquet of the match after a double fault in game seven.
He offered Roger another break chance and found a way to stay unbroken and avoid a double break deficit. Federer sailed through his service games, having the upper hand on the return and creating three set points at 5-3. Marat repelled them but could only prolong the set for another game, as Roger held at love again in game ten to notch the set 6-4 and move closer to the finish line.
Nothing worked for the Russian, and he got broken at 1-1 in the third set despite saving the first three break points. With the victory in his sight, Roger allowed three deuces on serve in the next game but held in the end for a 3-1 lead.
The pressure was back on Safin, who could see clear writings on the wall after experiencing another break in game five. Roger extended the advantage with a glorious forehand winner. He sealed the deal when Marat sprayed a forehand mistake in the eighth game, celebrating his second Major title within seven months and becoming world no. 1.