Safin beats Isner in straight sets to reach second round

Updated: August 6, 2008, 1:45 AM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Former No. 1 Marat Safin continued his slow climb back toward the top of the rankings with a 6-3, 6-4 win over John Isner in the first round of the Countrywide Classic on Tuesday afternoon.

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The 6-foot-9 Isner served 11 aces, seven of those in the second set, but was broken twice by the mercurial Russian. Safin had nine aces and faced only one break point, at 30-40 after a double-fault in the final game of the match.

Safin, 28, the No. 5 seed in this 28-player ATP Tour event, started the season with a five-match losing streak and dropped from No. 57 to No. 93 before reversing the trend by reaching the quarterfinals of a tournament at Munich, Germany, in late April.

Also, Donald Young broke a four-match losing streak in impressive fashion by upsetting two-time event champion Tommy Haas of Germany 6-2, 6-4 in a first-round match.

Young, 19, a former world No. 1 junior now ranked No. 100, got his fourth service break of the match in the ninth game of the second set to position himself to serve out the match. He won after the 40th-ranked Haas hit a forehand wide.

Haas, the No. 8 seed who won the tournament in 2004 and 2006, hurt himself repeatedly with errors on his forehand.

Young, a left-hander who had won just one of his past nine matches on the ATP Tour, played solidly from the baseline and served well enough that he faced only two break points despite a half-dozen double faults. He won five straight games after Haas held serve to open the first set and took the final three after Haas held to go up 4-3 in the second set.

"This has to be at the top of my wins," said Young, who beat No. 26 Feliciano Lopez earlier this year at Indian Wells. "It was really important to get a win. My tennis hasn't been going that well this summer and I've got high expectations of myself. Late in the match I got real nervous. I just told myself, 'Put the serve in and make him play, make him beat you."

Haas said he played poorly but credited Young for beating him. "He was solid from the baseline and moved pretty well," he said. "He deserved to win."

Safin, who is ranked No. 44 this week, was a semifinalist at Wimbledon, where he beat No. 3 Novak Djokovic and No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka before losing to No. 1 Roger Federer.

Safin improved to 3-7 on hard courts this year and will face American left-hander Wayne Odesnik in the second round. Odesnik, 103rd in the rankings, advanced with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over countryman Bobby Reynolds earlier Tuesday.

In other early matches, American Vincent Spadea beat Sebastien Grosjean of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Dusan Vemic of Serbia outlasted Sam Warburg of the U.S. 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4; and qualifier Andrea Stoppini of Italy, ranked No. 221, ousted Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-1, 6-3.

Stoppini's win over the 87th-ranked Kunitsyn highlighted a day in which, with the exception of the Safin-Isner match, the lower-ranked player won.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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