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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safin Pushed to Limit by Becker

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Former champion Marat Safin had his endurance tested to the limit by Germany's Benjamin Becker before coming through 5-7, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.

The 26th seed struggled to cope with the terrific court speed and angled ground strokes of Becker, the man most noted for ending Andre Agassi's career at last year's U.S. Open, before he finally prevailed in three hours and 26 minutes.

"I think we had a great match but I think I had the more experience and I hit some great shots," Safin said in a courtside interview.

"I knew he beat Agassi and he has a lot of respect from the players, he's a very tough opponent."

Safin was playing at Melbourne Park for the first time since winning the 2005 title after injury ruled him out last year, and Becker was in no mood to give him easy passage.

The German broke in Game 11 of the opener before serving out the set 7-5 in 42 minutes. Safin's frustration at the world No. 57's tireless running showed at 5-6 in the second when he slammed his racquet to the floor.

But Safin held his focus to win the tiebreak 7-2 before Becker broke for 3-1 in the third and went on to hold for 6-3, a code violation compounding Safin's misery after he shattered his racquet frame in another show of temper.

Safin hit back again, breaking in the sixth game of the fourth set before setting up a tense decider as the match stretched into the early hours of the morning.

The Russian claimed the decisive break to lead 3-2 in the fifth and held on, sealing the win when Becker ballooned a forehand wide.

Safin will now play Israel's Dudi Sela for a place in the third round, where he could face American sixth seed Andy Roddick.

Roddick himself endured a scare, before booking his place in the second round with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over unheralded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga's ranking is so low it does not even register in the ATP handbook, but he wrote his name into tennis folklore when he won a marathon first-set tiebreak 20-18, equaling the record for longest breaker in the Open's history.

"I was thinking if we were never going to finish the tiebreaker," grinned the 2003 U.S. Open champion.

The American, though, cannot afford such lapses again as he heads for a third-round collision with Safin.

After playing the waiting game for almost three hours, Svetlana Kuznetsova sprinted past Australian wildcard Jessica Moore 6-2, 6-0.

The third seed led a sextet of Russian women through. She was joined by fifth-seeded Nadya Petrova, seventh-seeded Yelena Dementyeva, Maria Kirilenko and Yelena Vesnina.