Safin Overcomes Self-Doubt to Win Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) - Stricken by nerves and self-doubt, Marat Safin's belief returned in the nick of time on Sunday as the Russian beat Lleyton Hewitt, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, to win the centenary Australian Open.
Safin had been convinced he would lose the match after dropping the opening set and trailing 4-1 in the third when his luck suddenly turned around.
He reeled off five games in a row to take a two-sets-to-one lead then broke Hewitt at the start of the fourth set and never looked back.
"This is a huge relief for me, because I didn't believe I could win," Safin said.
"I've already lost two finals here before and I started to doubt myself. I thought it was going to happen again."
Safin didn't know it at the time, but Hewitt was battling his own demons even though he was leading the match.
The Australian had made it through to his first Melbourne final the hard way, surviving two grueling five set matches against Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian but the effort had taken its toll.
He sailed into the final on a wave of national patriotism fueled by a never-say-die attitude but he couldn't muster the energy for one last fight when things started going wrong.
"Even when I was a set up, at no stage did I start thinking that this is just going to carry along," Hewitt said.
"His game really picked up. Once he got the momentum back he stepped it up again to another notch