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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kafelnikov, Volkov Earn Kremlin Wins

Russia's up-and-coming tennis stars fought their way into the second round of the $1.1 million Kremlin Cup, but those who paved their way were not as fortunate.


No. 3 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov defeated Germany's Lars Rehmann, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday at Moscow's Olympic Sports Center, joining countryman Alexander Volkov in the round of 16. But Andrei Chesnokov followed two-time Kremlin Cup champion Andrei Cherkasov to the losers' bench Tuesday, falling 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 7-5 to another German, Alexander Mronz.


Crowds during the first two days of the tournament numbered a little more than 4,000, less than a third of the stadium's capacity. But one marquee guest was Russian President Boris Yeltsin, a well-known tennis buff, who attended the first match and opening ceremony Monday.


Some of Russia's NHL hockey stars who are back in the country for a charity tournament -- including Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fyodorov -- attended the tournament and played a pick-up game with the tennis players on the ice rink at the sports complex on Tuesday. Playing without a goalie and using covered tennis rackets as sticks, the NHL squad fell to the tennis team led by the Swiss Jacob Hlasek, 6-5, in their one-period match.


On the tennis court Tuesday, after getting over a bout of nerves in the first set, Kafelnikov powered his way over the hard-hitting Rehmann, one of the bigger servers in the world. With pinpoint accuracy, the Russian unleashed his overpowering groundstrokes on Rehmann's serves, which frequently topped 200 kilometers per hour, handcuffing his opponent at the baseline and at net.


"I was nervous and couldn't control myself during the first set," said Kafelnikov, who has risen from No. 104 in the world last year to No. 11. He added that he felt "a great deal of responsibility" to produce a victory in front of the home crowd. But he recovered to win the second two sets handily.


The biggest upset of the tournament so far was Mrnoz's 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 7-5 win over Chesnokov, who in 1991 was the first Russian in decades to crack the Top 20 and is currently ranked No. 33 in the world. Nerves struck Chesnokov too, and he was lucky to force a tiebreaker in the second set. The third set was testimony to Mronz's steady concentration and Chesnokov's erratic form.


Also Tuesday, No. 4 seed and world No. 12 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa beat Brad Gilbert of the United States, 6-4, 6-4.


Top seed and world No. 5 Sergi Bruguera and defending champion Marc Rosset (No. 15) are scheduled to play their first matches Wednesday.


The highest seed to fall Monday was No. 5 Thomas Muster of Austria, who lost 6-4, 7-5 to Romodir Vasek of the Czech Republic. The Czech took the net away from Muster, who never seemed to hit his stride.


Second seed Todd Martin of the United States faced an unexpectedly tough match Monday against Henrik Holm of Sweden. Holm saved two match points but Martin eked out the win, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (8-6).


Monday's best tennis came from a match which started poorly between Volkov and Martin Damm of the Czech Republic. Volkov lost the first set 6-4, partly as a result of his shaky forehand and only began to settle down in the second, which he took 6-3.


But the Russian came alive in the third set, hitting excellent service returns off Damm's powerful first serve, which on occasion reached 198 kilometers per hour. Cheered on by the hometown crowd in the tiebreaker, Volkov exploded with a series of aces and backhand winners to close out the match 7-4 in the tiebreaker.


Earlier Monday, Cherkasov, winner of the Kremlin Cup in 1990 and 1991, played a hard-fought match against Hendrik Dreekman of Germany. Cherkasov opened the first set with a barrage of aces and deftly played drop volleys and raced to a 6-2 lead. But his high energy level seemed to be his undoing, as Dreekman changed tactics in the second set, slicing backhands deep into the court and forcing the Russian to play longer points from the backcourt. Dreekman's increasingly steady serves and volleys and a series of well-played break points allowed the German to prevail, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.