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Safin makes final Wimbledon exit

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:35

The Russian 14th seed, who intends to retire at the end of the year, was beaten 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes on Court 18.

Safin reached the semi-finals at SW19 last year and there were hopes he could make another mark on the tournament this time around in his final appearance at the All England Championship.

But 21-year-old Levine, who stood seven inches shorter than his opponent, had other ideas and found himself a break up after just three games of the opening set.

Another break followed for the world number 133 two games later and the frustration began to show in Safin, who was given a racket abuse warning soon after when his anger boiled over.

Levine quickly wrapped up the opener 6-2, but Safin hit back in the second, breaking in game four when his opponent hit a forehand long. Safin then missed two set-point opportunities in the eighth but served out soon after to level the match.

The crowd were fully behind Safin at that point, but the 29-year-old Russian was unable to make the extra support count and the third set went with serve to force the tie-break.

Again there was little to separate the big-hitting Safin and the defiant Levine until the latter made the breakthrough with a perfect forehand down the line.

A weak forehand into the net from Safin on the very next point gifted the set to Levine, and the American quickly built on his advantage.

He broke twice in the fourth set to open up a 4-1 lead, and although Safin managed to pull a break back in the eighth, Levine found himself with three match points two games later and took the first thanks to another poor return from Safin. Levine’s next opponent will be Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.

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