Marat Safin had to search for his game after two weeks away from tennis, remembering the tricks of the trade just in time for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 win into the second round of the one-million-dollar Mercedes Cup Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Russian third seed moved ahead past Andre Pavel of Romania in one hour and 47 minutes, a re-learning experience, he admitted.
"I had two weeks in Moscow after Wimbledon without touching a racket," he said. "In the first set, I was up 5-2 and I didn't know what to do with my game. I was under pressure."
Safin had lost in the first round for the past two years, but says that he almost didn't manage to pull off his victory and snap the streak.
"It's difficult to come back after some time off. And especially to get back on clay from grass."
Safin lost the opening set against the unseeded Pavel, and then began his comeback. He broke twice in the third to win on the first of a trio of match points.
Meanwhile, Karol Kucera of Slovakia upset fourth seed Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco 6-3, 6-2. He faces fifth seed Franco Squillari, first into the quarterfinals after crushing German qualifier Marc Goellner 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Friday – (AFP)
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