<
>

Safin wins in debut; Korolev drops top seed Blake

LAS VEGAS -- Marat Safin beat Stefan Koubek of Austria 7-5,
6-2 in his opening round-robin match at the Tennis Channel Open on
Tuesday.

The third-seeded Russian, now 3-0 in his career against Koubek,
had to adapt gusting winds of up to 32 mph throughout his match.

"It is very tough," said Safin. "It is difficult to play your
very best tennis. You just try to stay as cool as you can and try
to attack. That is the only way to try and control the ball."

Safin never trailed and never faced on a break point. He made 83
percent of his second serve points compared to 63 percent for
Koubek.

Evgeny Korolev of Russia knocked off top-seeded James Blake 6-2,
6-4.

Korolev started strong and handled 32 mph winds better, taking
advantage of several unforced errors. Despite the loss, Blake could
still reach the quarterfinals on Friday thanks to the event format.
Korolev dropped his opening match Monday to Juan Martin del potro
6-3, 6-2, leaving Blake a window to advance if he tops Martin del
potro.

By taking four games in the second set, Blake positioned himself
to push through to the quarterfinals if he beats Martin del potro
in straight sets.

Blake had 16 unforced errors in the first game and never
recovered, often showing his disgust on the court as more errors
mounted.

Second-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia triumphed over Vincent
Spadea 6-3, 6-3.

Hewitt, a two-time event champion and a 2006 finalist, led
throughout Tuesday's match. Hewitt is now 7-0 against Spadea.

Several of Hewitt's first serve attempts were delayed when the
wind blew the ball several feet away from him. He overcame the wind
by winning 80 percent of his second serve points in the first set
compared to 40 percent for Spadea.

In other action Tuesday, No. 7 Tim Henman of Great Britain
defeated Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-1, 6-2; Jan Hernych of the
Czech Republic beat No. 8 Benjamin Becker of Germany, 6-3, 7-5;
Paul Capdeville of Chile upset Michael Llodra of France, 6-2, 2-6,
6-1; and Paul-Henri Mathieu of France topped Danai Udomchoke of
Thailand, 6-2, 6-3.