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Marat Safin Advances in Kremlin Cup

October 24, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ U.S. Open champion Marat Safin won before a home crowd Tuesday, defeating Germany’s Rainer Schuttler 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round of the $2.05 million Kremlin Cup.

``A first-round match is always the most important. It is always difficult to step into a tournament,″ said the top-seeded Safin, ranked No. 2 on the ATP Tour.

Lisa Raymond, a doubles specialist and the only American playing singles at the Kremlin Cup, downed qualifier Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus 7-6 (5), 6-3 to reach the second round.

Seventh-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia, the Olympic silver medalist, struggled past Ruxandra Dragomir of Romania 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1.

Safin, a hard server, fired seven aces and controlled the match.

Another player with a big serve, fourth-seeded Marc Rosset of Switzerland, downed Russia’s Andrei Cherkasov 6-2, 6-4. The two-time Kremlin Cup winner served 13 aces.

Martin Damm of the Czech Republic retired with a twisted knee one game into the second set. German qualifier Lars Burgsmuller lost the first set 6-2 but advanced to the second round.

The only upset in the men’s field came when Vladimir Volchkov of Belarus down seventh-seeded Fernando Vicente of spain 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

No. 8 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic outplayed error-plagued Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Ivanisevic, who won this event in 1996, hasn’t reached a second round since June and has slumped to 124th in the ATP rankings.

He jumped ahead 3-0 and won the first set in 25 minutes. But he was unable to contend with Novak’s crosscourt shots in the last two sets. Ivanisevic finished with 13 aces but 15 double faults.

Also, Australia’s Andrew Ilie routed lucky loser Bjorn Phau of Germany 6-1, 6-2; Alberto Martin of Spain beat Jan Kroslak, a qualifier from Slovakia, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4; and Thomas Johansson of Sweden downed Albert Portas of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Vera Zvonareva of Russia, a wild card, outplayed compatriot Elena Bovina, a qualifier, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-2, and Paula Suarez of Argentina ousted Russian qualifier Galina Fokina 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

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