Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has won the Australian Open after beating Russia’s Marat Safin in the final.This content was published on February 1, 2004 - 06:45
Two days after becoming the new world number one, Federer cruised past Safin in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne on Sunday.
Victory brought the 22-year-old his second grand slam title after winning the coveted Wimbledon title last year.
“What a great start to the year for me. First, I become number one, and now I have fulfilled my dream to win this title. It means very much to me,” Federer said on receiving the cup.
“I also want to congratulate Marat. He had to battle [injury]. It's really nice to see him back. He’s a great guy and a great player.”
Safin, who was on the comeback trail after a wrist injury last year, had booked his place in the final by beating US Open champion Andy Roddick and defending champion Andre Agassi.
“Congratulations, Roger, you’ve played great tennis in the past two weeks. I am very glad to be in the finals again and I am very glad to play my best tennis,” Safin said after the match.
Safin and Federer have met four times previously, with Federer leading 3-1. But they had never met on hard courts.
By becoming the world number one, Federer and the former Swiss women’s star, Martina Hingis, together have taken Switzerland into an exclusive club of countries that have had number ones in both sexes - the only other countries are the United States, the former Czechoslovakia, Germany and Spain.
Considered the most talented player of his generation, Federer is regularly compared to the recently retired Pete Sampras of the United States.
The Basel-born player, who is the only Swiss to make waves on the men’s circuit, first made a name for himself on the professional circuit in 1998, when he became the world junior number one.
A year later Federer made it into the top 100 for the first time, but he finally exploded onto the scene when he took the Wimbledon title in 2003.
Two years before he lifted the famous grass court trophy, Federer defeated Sampras in the fourth round at the All England Club.
That victory was all the more impressive as the American had been unbeaten at the tournament for 31 matches.
Federer went on to win the 2002 Masters series in Hamburg, one of the nine major tournaments after the four grand slams.
On the Davis Cup circuit between 2001 and 2003, Federer enjoyed an incredible run of ten straight-set victories in a row, helping the Swiss team to qualifiy for the semi-finals last year.
Proof that Federer was fulfilling his potential - and that his Wimbledon victory was not just a momentary flash of brilliance - came when he won last November's Masters tournament in Houston, Texas.
He has continued his winning streak over the past two weeks at the Australian Open, notching up victories over Americans Alex Bogomolov Jr and Jeff Morrison, Todd Reid and Lleyton Hewitt from Australia, as well as Argentina's David Nalbandian.
Federer has become the first Swiss man to be number one in the world.
Marat Safin is due to make the biggest jump in the rankings - from 86th place to the low 30s.
The new Australian Open champion will receive prize money of SFr1.2 million.
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