2004 Houston Tennis Masters

Roger Federer   v    Marat Safin 

SF

6-3, 7-6 (20-18)

    

The one hour, 47-minute struggle was filled with plot twists, as Safin failed on six set point chances which would have taken it into a deciding third.

It tied the record for the longest tie-break ever played since the concept began in 1970.

The Swiss moved comfortably through the first set against Safin, winner of back-to-back Masters Cup titles this autumn, with Federer losing only five points on his serve.

But the tone changed in the second as Safin took a 4-1 lead through a break of the world No. 1 in the second game. Federer got it back in the seventh game to eventually lead to the record-setting tiebreaker.

Federer now leads Safin 6-1 with the Russian's only victory coming in 2002 in Moscow.

The flawless Federer stands 22-0 against Top 10 opponents dating back to Houston last year and has won his past 12 tournament finals.

Safin said: "I was disappointed to lose but I was going for too much, I was nervous," said the Russian "It was Federer across the net and you have to do something special.

"I was a little bit nervous, but that's normal. I was risking a bit too much, I was getting impatient. It's better to wait for your chances against him and then kill the ball."
 

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