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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Triumph on Euro Clay

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HAMBURG, Germany — Marat Safin put his indifferent form behind him by storming into the second round of the Hamburg Masters on Tuesday with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jens Knippschild.

The Russian had suffered a miserable clay-court season so far, losing in the second round of both the Rome and Monte Carlo Masters.

But he hopes a back injury that has been plagued him and hampered his serve has been cured.

"I'm trying to get my confidence back. I feel much better," he said. "I was serving so much better. Now I just need to win some matches before the French Open."

Second seed Safin, who plays Argentine Gaston Gaudio next, was joined in the second round by Swedish fifth seed Magnus Norman and Australian seventh seed Lleyton Hewitt.

But 15th seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia was ousted by Germany's Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-2.

Norman beat Switzerland's Marc Rosset 6-3, 7-5, while Hewitt dispatched France's Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-3, 6-2.

"I feel like I am getting better and better," Hewitt said afterward.

He returned to action in Rome following almost a month off the tour and said the break had done him good: "I felt like I hadn't had a break for so long. So I just put the rackets down."

In Rome, reigning French Open champion Mary Pierce lost her 2001 European clay debut, falling Tuesday in the first round of the Masters Series to Russia's Nadia Petrova.

The 10th-seeded French national looked stiff and unfocused, losing 6-2, 6-4 in under an hour.

Pierce, who won on Foro Italico's red clay in 1997, was dominated by the WTA's 62nd-ranked player.

Pierce was asked which aspect of her game needed work. "Everything," she said dryly.

Petrova said she didn't expect such a quick match.

"She didn't play her best," said the 24-year-old Russian. "I was just hitting a little bit away from her and she wouldn't move."

Pierce broke Petrova just once, to even the second set at 2-2, but the Russian broke back at love to go up 3-2.

Also Tuesday, another Russian, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, knocked out ninth-seeded Anke Huber of Germany 6-2, 6-3. This followed Monday's win by Russia's Tatyana Panova, who overcame a one-set disadvantage to eliminate American Jill Craybas.

(Reuters, AP)