"Marata" stages great escape again at Roland Garros

PARIS Wed Jun 4, 2008 7:29pm BST

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PARIS (Reuters) - Dinara Safina, who has been nicknamed 'Marata' for losing her temper just like her elder brother, is turning out to be one of the greatest comeback artists on the grand slam stage.

On Wednesday, the Russian became the first woman since tennis turned professional in 1968 to have come from match point down in successive grand slam matches -- winning both.

Two days after she knocked out world number one Maria Sharapova, shrugging off a match point in the second set before rolling on in the third set, Safina beat compatriot Elena Dementieva in similar fashion on Wednesday.

"It wasn't in my mind. I just kept on playing. I mean, in this case, I can say she gave me a free point on the match point," Safina told a press conference after her 4-6 7-6 6-0 win.

Dementieva then went on to hand Safina victory on a platter, with the seventh seed's game simply disintegrating.

"I just had to play soft to her and wait really for opportunity that I could punish her, and that's how I started to play from 5-2 (down). It's not really my game to play like this, but sometimes that's how it goes for to win a match," the 13th seed said.

It worked as Dementieva suddenly found herself struggling for winners, with Safina putting a lot of top-spin in her shots.

Safina, who won the German Open last month, credited her second dramatic comeback in three days to the work she has put in in the fitness room.

"I've been working really hard on my fitness. It's kind of, not advantage, but I just feel like if I need to do something else I will be able to do it with the physical (fitness)," said the 22-year-old, who will be aiming to add a third grand slam trophy to the family collection after her brother Marat's success in New York in 2000 and Melbourne in 2005.

Dementieva, a finalist at Roland Garros in 2004, admitted she could not find the energy to fight after throwing away a match point.

"I think it was very hard to play the third set after I had so many chances to finish the match," she said.

"I was trying to get myself back to the game, but it was kind of difficult in the situation."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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