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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safin Bounces Back to Break Robredo

ReutersMarat Safin returning the ball to Robredo at the Monte Carlo Open in Monaco on Tuesday.
MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Sixth seed Marat Safin reeled off nine games in a row to bounce back from a set down and beat Spain's Tommy Robredo 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to record his first ever victory in the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

With a record of three first-round defeats from three visits to the principality, a red-faced and frustrated Safin looked to be heading for the exit once again when he trailed the gritty baseliner 6-4, 3-0 on Center Court.

But the former world No. 1 never lost faith and hauled his way back into the match for a hard-fought victory to end his run of Monegasque misery.

"I can play well on clay," he smiled on court afterward. "So it is nice to get a win here at last."

Robredo, named Tommy after The Who's rock opera of the same name, played like a spin-ball wizard in the opening set to ride rough-shod over the sixth seed.

The baseliner pummeled his way through Safin's defenses with searing top-spin forehands to take the set 6-4.

Safin fell behind 3-0 as Robredo -- the latest in a line of a new generation of Spanish baseliners -- continued to mix up bludgeoned forehands with artful drop shots and heavily sliced backhands.

Safin finally held, though, for 3-1 and, boosted by that, immediately got the break. That signaled a change in fortunes as Safin, runner-up at the Australian Open this year, began to find his range.

His lethal groundstrokes, which had been flying long, began peppering the baseline and he started dictating play.

Taking firm control of the match, Safin rattled off nine games in a display of power tennis to level the match and streak into a 3-0 lead in the decider.

The Spaniard managed to hold for 3-1 and for 4-2, but there was no stopping Safin. The Russian went from strength to strength, diving around the court for acrobatic volleys, leaving his white shirt coated in red clay.

He broke Robredo one final time in the eighth game of the decider to sew up victory in two hours, 15 minutes.

On Monday, Olympic champion and former world No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov slid out of the event with barely a whimper after losing 6-1, 6-2 to Austrian Markus Hipfl.

The third-seeded Russian, French Open champion in 1996 and Australian Open champion in 1999, also lost to the unheralded Hipfl in the first round here last year.

Having said he will retire at the end of the year if he can lead Russia to the Davis Cup crown, Kafelnikov looked as though his appetite for the sport was waning on the Court des Princes at the Monte Carlo Country Club.