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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Angry Safin Finds Way Through

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Fourth seed Marat Safin overcame his inner demons and a stubborn opponent in Olivier Rochus to beat the Belgian 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2) to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The Russian, twice a runner-up at Melbourne Park, received a warning after smashing his racket in anger at missing a succession of break points but battled hard to squeeze into the last eight.

"He's a really tough player," the former U.S. Open champion said.

"A lot of people underestimate him and he can cause you a lot of trouble. He reads the game well, he is very fast and has a great forehand."

After dropping the first set, Safin pulled level by snatching the second.

The Russian's frustration boiled over in the fifth game of the third when, having missed three chances to break, he smashed his racket and was given a warning by the umpire.

Safin finally broke the Rochus serve for the first time on his 16th opportunity.

"I was a little upset about [the missed break points] because every break point is very important against him," said Safin.

"Then, I couldn't break him and it was psychological and he was taking advantage. He didn't let me play."

Having regained his concentration, Safin captured the third set on another tiebreak and repeated the feat in the fourth to set up a meeting with 20th seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.

Twelve months ago, Safin won back-to-back five-setters on his way to the final, only to run out of steam against Roger Federer.

This time he said he was feeling good heading into the second week.

"It's actually better to have one match like this because if you are winning very easily, once you have a tough match, you might not find yourself in a very comfortable situation," he said.

In other action Sunday, Andre Agassi overcame a record number of aces from Joachim Johannson and set up an Australian Open quarterfinal against defending champion and top-ranked Roger Federer.

Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner and four-time champion in Melbourne, produced one of his great performances to defeat the 1.98-meter (6-foot-6) Johansson, who slammed 51 aces in their fourth-round match.

One of the best service returners in tennis, the 34-year-old Agassi endured Johansson's barrage, breaking the Swede three times to win 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

Agassi dropped his own serve twice, at the start of the first and fourth sets, and made only 13 unforced errors in the match -- none in the first set.

"It was a tough day," Agassi said.

The 11th-seeded Johansson was pushing the limits on almost every shot. He mixed 66 unforced errors with a remarkable 96 winners, including his aces and service winners. In the first tiebreaker, he clinched the opening set with a second service ace at 217 kilometers per hour.

The 22-year-old Johansson surpassed Richard Krajicek's mark of 49 aces in a quarterfinal loss to Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov at the 1999 U.S. Open.

His final three aces came in his last service game.

"Joachim today was hitting the ball so big," Agassi said. "What can you do but sort of react?

"I was anxious the whole time," he added. "I had to stay focused and disciplined, give myself a look and hope I can convert on the few chances I do get."

Federer, whose 11 titles in 2004 included three majors, extended his winning streak to 25 matches with a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Marcos Baghdatis.

(Reuters, AP)