Ivanisevic Trounces Massu in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fifth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic pounded his way Monday night past unseeded Chilean Nicholas Massu to advance into the second round of the St. Petersburg Open. The 1.93-meter-tall Croatian Ivanisevic needed only 55 minutes to win 6-2, 6-3 over the Chilean, who struggled to return Ivanisevic's legendary serve.

Ivanisevic struggled on the court in 2000, finishing the year ranked with an ATP ranking of only 96, although he recovered this year, most notably with a stunning victory at Wimbledon, tennis' most prestigious tournament.

Ivanisevic got off to a slow start, splitting the first two games with Massu, but then went on to break the Chilean in the fourth game, following that with two service aces in the fifth to go 4-1 up. Ivanisevic never lost the momentum and continued to roll over Massu in the second set, appropriately finishing him off with an ace.

In other first-round matches Monday, sixth-seeded Frenchman Fabrice Santoro easily defeated unseeded 20-year-old St. Petersburg resident Mikhail Elgin, 6-4, 6-3, in little over an hour, while unseeded Czech Daniel Vacek struggled to take out Belgian Olivier Rochus in two sets 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Unseeded Belarussian Vladimir Voltchkov upset eighth-seeded Frenchman Nicolas Escude in a tense two-set match. After Voltchkov, ranked 53rd in the world, scored an easy victory in the first set, Escude, put up a tougher fight in the second, but the Belarussian hung on to emerge victorious in a tiebreaker, 7-6.

The St. Petersburg Open has a total prize fund of $800,000, an almost three-fold increase since the first tournament in 1995.

The tournament is sponsored by Balt-Uneximbank, one of the city's largest banks, and Conti Group, headed by jailed businessman Mikhail Mirilashvili and famous for its Astoria and Olympia casinos, as well as others.

The tournament has attracted several top-ranked players and crowd favorites, such as Russians Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, as well as Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.