MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Marat Safin went through the darkest period of his tennis career just after Jennifer Capriati won her first Grand Slam event at the 2001 Australian Open.
Both advanced to this year's Australian Open semifinals Wednesday, adding to their comeback stories.
The top-seeded 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 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.
Safin, seeded ninth, got a reprieve when his quarterfinal lasted just seven games before Wayne Ferreira quit with an abdominal strain.
He next faces seventh-seeded Tommy Haas, who had a 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) quarterfinal win over former No. 1 Marcelo Rios.
Haas, the highest-ranked player remaining in the men's draw, produced aces to save break points three times.
"It was extremely tight but I was happy to win in four," sets, he said. "He had a lot of chances. I seemed to save them pretty well with my serves."
Rios, runnerup at Melbourne in 1998, wasted his opportunities, dropping his serve immediately after breaking the German on three occasions in the 3-hour, 17-minute match. He converted just three of 13 break-point chances.
Haas set up three match points with an ace to go up 6-3 in the last tiebreaker, and clinched it three points later when Rios dumped a backhand return in the net.
Rios hit more winners (61-60) and had fewer unforced errors (52-57) but failed when he had Haas in trouble.
"The problem was that I didn't win the most important points," Rios said. "If I had won the first set, it would have been a totally different match.
"After I won the third, he relied on his big serve ... when I had a break point, he used it very well."
Safin, who was leading 5-2, said Ferreira's withdrawal was 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."
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, the 21-year-old Russian 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.
"I didn't expect many things to come from last year, so I started to prepare for this year. It was my goal, because I couldn't finish No. 1," he added. "It seems like it's coming right now, so it was good that I stayed there."
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