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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Haas Win Serves Up Safin Semi in Open

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Tommy Haas relied on a booming first serve to overcome former No. 1 Marcelo Rios 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5) Wednesday and set up an Australian Open semifinal against Marat Safin.

The seventh-seeded Haas, the highest-ranked player remaining in the men's draw, produced aces to save break points three times.

Rios, runner-up here in 1998, wasted his opportunities, dropping his serve immediately after breaking Haas on three occasions in the 3 hour, 17-minute match.

Haas fired 22 aces, culminating with one in the tiebreaker that gave him three match points.

The German, a semifinalist here three years ago, said his service made the difference.

"In the first two sets, he was up 15-40 a lot of times -- he had a lot of break points -- but couldn't convert them," Haas said. "That would have frustrated him."

Safin, seeded ninth, got a reprieve when his quarterfinal lasted just seven games and 28 minutes before Wayne Ferreira quit with an abdominal strain.

Safin, who was leading 5-2, said Ferreira's withdrawal was like a gift after his tough four-set win over Pete Sampras in the previous round.

"I'm confident and I'm doing so well -- I would love to win this tournament," Safin said. "Nothing is easy in this life. Sometimes you have to work a little bit more, like I did against Pete -- it was a great match that I deserved to win. Today was a present."

In women's quarterfinals, top-seeded Jennifer Capriati made it the final four at a Grand Slam event for the fifth consecutive time, producing her best groundstrokes to defeat Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 6-2. She next faces No. 4 Kim Clijsters, who won 6-2, 6-3 over fellow Belgian Justine Henin, in a rematch of last year's French Open final.

In the night match, Rios hit more winners (61-60) and had fewer unforced errors (52-57) but failed when he had Haas in trouble.

He won the third set to reduce the margin to 2-1 after firing an ace to pick up four set points in the tiebreaker.

Rios, serving to stay in the match at 5-4 in the fourth, rallied from 0-30 and leveled at 5-5 with a forehand winner down the line followed by an ace.

In the last tiebreaker, Haas brought up three match points at 6-3 with his 22nd ace and then clinched it two points later when Rios dumped a backhand in the net.

Following his win over Ferreira, Safin said he's learning about being a pro and "growing up."

After winning the 2000 U.S. Open, Safin said he felt "indestructible." He reached No. 1 in November 2000, but lost the top ranking to Gustavo Kuerten at the year-end tournament.

After a fourth-round exit at Melbourne Park last year, he had a series of back problems.

In his darkest moments, he said he didn't think he'd make it back.

"I was afraid, of course," he said. "I felt so bad, like I couldn't find my game. After the injury, I couldn't play and nothing was working.

"It's depressing, and you have to spend a lot of hours, practicing, practicing; it doesn't come."

Something within pressed him to stick with it.

"Last year, I was trying to give up, but I couldn't," he said.

Despite a strong finish to the year, when he picked up two titles and reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the semis at the U.S. Open, he finished at No. 11 in the world.

Looking ahead to Clijsters, Capriati said, "I've had maybe some tough matches, but I feel pretty fresh myself, so hopefully I'll come out strong and play like I did today."

Clijsters said she was looking for revenge against Capriati, with whom she shares a similar game.

"We both like to attack and like to be aggressive from the beginning of the point," she said. "The one who can move the opponent around first in the point will actually win, and the one who makes less unforced errors."