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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Safin's legs won't hold against Agassi

By MaliVai Washington
Special to ESPN.com

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Year after year, it seems like Andre Agassi goes into a major and somehow manages to play less tennis than everyone else in the draw.

This year's Australian Open is no exception. Agassi is playing very good tennis, but he hasn't been tested yet. His semifinal opponent, Marat Safin, on the other hand, managed to go four or five sets in each of his five matches.

One of the challenges for Safin in this semfinal match will be his legs. How well will he recover after his five-set victory against Andy Roddick? The tennis Safin played Tuesday night showed he's as good as any top-five player in the world. The question now is whether his legs are strong enough to withstand the running he's going to do against Agassi.

Against Roddick, Safin opted to stay on the baseline, but there might not be any player who can beat Agassi from the baseline on Rebound Ace.

From Agassi's standpoint, he'll be hoping that this semifinal is played in the heat of the day. Hailing from the desert, Agassi admits he loves playing in hot, humid conditions because he knows he can physically outlast any opponent.

The key for Safin will be his serve. If he serves well, protecting it as he did against Roddick, he'll have his one and only chance.

There just seems to be too many factors against Safin winning this match, so expect Agassi to win it in four sets.

MaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.