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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safin, Hingis Power Through in Kremlin Cup

ReutersRussia?s Safin returning the ball to Belarussian Mirnyi during their ill-tempered Kremlin Cup first-round match Wednesday, in which Safin came from behind to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Former U.S. Open champion Marat Safin overpowered Max Mirnyi 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a battle of two big-hitters in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Wednesday.

In the earlier match on center court, top seed Martina Hingis advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Czech qualifier Sandra Kleinova.

The defending champion fell behind early in the match as she struggled with her usually reliable all-court game but, after drawing level at 5-5, the Swiss world No. 1 finally broke 135th-ranked Kleinova in the 12th game to take the set.

Hingis found her range in the second set, racing into a 5-1 lead before sealing victory in 63 minutes.

"She already played four matches here, in the first round and qualifiers, while it was my first match here, so it took me a while to get going," Hingis said.

Hingis, who is the first player to reach the last eight of the $2.185 million tournament, next faces Yelena Dementieva or Alexandra Stevenson.

On Tuesday, Anna Kournikova lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 to 17-year-old compatriot Galina Fokina, her third straight defeat after returning from a long-term foot injury.

"Anna is still struggling with her injury," Hingis said. "I don't know if I should say this, but she went to the hospital after yesterday's match. She needed treatment on her foot."

Hingis said she would continue playing doubles with the Russian.

"We really enjoy playing doubles together, and provided Anna is healthy enough to play, we will continue our partnership this year and next."

After losing the opening set, Safin broke his opponent to love in the fifth game of the second set when Mirnyi's serve suddenly deserted him.

In that game, the lanky Belarussian missed all his first serves, double-faulting twice to hand his opponent a 3-2 lead from which he never recovered.

"I was really upset with Max's attitude on the court," Safin said. "We know each other a long time and have even played together in doubles, but tonight he twice hit a lucky shot and never apologized for that.

"Come on, if you hit a ball with a frame and win a point, be a real sportsman and say something or raise your hand," lamented the Russian second seed. "He never did that and it got me angry. I was going to teach him a lesson in sportsmanship."

Safin scored a decisive break in the ninth game of the final set with a perfect backhand lob for a 5-4 lead, then held comfortably in the next game to clinch victory in 90 minutes.

Fourth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France, who won here in 1999, bid farewell to the Russian capital when she lost to Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

The 34-year-old Frenchwoman said afterward that she was definitely retiring at the end of the year.

In other first-round matches, Austria's Barbara Schett beat Russian Yelena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-4, while seventh seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria eliminated Germany's Anke Huber 6-3, 7-5.

On the men's side, fourth seed Tommy Haas of Germany beat American qualifier Bob Bryan 6-2, 6-4 on his Kremlin Cup debut.

Switzerland's Marc Rosset, twice Kremlin Cup champion in 1992 and 1993, defeated Yugoslav Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. The final set, which Rosset won 13-11 in a tiebreaker, lasted for over an hour.

Argentina also had a good day in Moscow, with seventh seed Guillermo Canas crushing Swede Andreas Vinciguerra 6-0, 6-1 in just 51 minutes and David Nalbandian beating Anthony Dupuis of France 7-5, 6-4 to set up a second-round clash with top seed and defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.