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Safin's Wimbledon era ends

MERCURIAL Russian Marat Safin tumbled out of his 10th and final Wimbledon on Tuesday but he had no regrets and cannot wait to clear his head on holiday.

"I need to get out of my brain and start from a new page," he said after an ignominious 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 4-6 first-round defeat by American qualifier Jesse Levine.

The 14th seed said what he wanted most was "definitely a huge vacation...I need more than a couple of months just to start all over again from the blank paper".

It was a sad end at Wimbledon for Safin, one of the most talented but temperamental players in the game.

He won the US Open in 2000 with a dazzling defeat of Pete Sampras and made a stunning comeback in 2005 to win the Australian Open.

"I should probably have won a couple more but I'm pretty satisfied with what I did," the 29-year-old said.

He will always be remembered for being a fiery volcano who constantly erupted, breaking over 700 rackets on court in sheer frustration.

Safin said he could never bottle up his emotions. "If everything accumulates inside of me, I cannot play," he said.

After all, he argued, Roger Federer "cries after winning and that's a surprising part for me".

Safin, playing on the circuit this year for the last time, was always out of sorts and could never dominate Levine, who beat a top 50 player for the first time in his career.

As the sun set over Court 18, the Russian was most annoyed with the line judges, arguing that a string of crucial calls went against him, especially in the third set tiebreak.

But that is not the end of the Safin family era.

His sister Dinara Safina, the women's world No. 1, was asked what made her brother so special.

In a moving tribute, she said: "He is honest and he doesn't hide anything. Like he's not a fake. Like he is how he is, on the court, off the court."

She added: "He has this charisma, this humour. You cannot learn this. Either you have it or you don't have it."

A fitting tribute to a heart-on-your-sleeve champion who often found his stunning talent clouded by an explosive temper.


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