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Karlovic upsets Monfils, nervous Safin wins

IVO Karlovic banged down 21 aces as he upset 13th seed Gael Monfils of France 6-4 6-7 7-6 in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters yesterday.

The towering 6-foot-10 (2.08 metres) Croat, who beat Roger Federer on his way to the semi-finals last year, won the deciding tiebreak 7-2 to advance to the second round after two hours and 10 minutes.

Former world number one Marat Safin, who is set to retire at the end of the year, eased past American Robby Ginepri 7-5 7-6, while seeds Gilles Simon of France and Croatia's Marin Cilic also claimed first-round wins.

Up a set and leading 5-4 with two serves in hand in the tie-break of the second, Karlovic appeared set to cruise to victory, but Monfils reeled off three superb points in a row to force a decider.

The Frenchman saved three break points in the fourth game of the decider, but could not repeat his second-set fight-back in the tie-break, allowing Karlovic to book a second-round clash with another Frenchman in Paul-Henri Mathieu, a 6-7 7-5 6-3 winner over German Mischa Zverev.


Safin edged out Ginepri for the second time in a month, taking the second-set tiebreak 7-2 to clinch victory, but said he he was finding it difficult to relax on court, despite knowing his career will soon draw to a close.

"At the end of the day, it's not like that (relaxing) because I always want to win," he told reporters. "Always you get pretty tight in important moments and it's difficult to push yourself to play relaxed, even though you know this is the end.

"But still, you are a player deep inside, so it comes out in important moments, and you want to win no matter what. So you understand, but also subconsciously when you are getting into the game, the old you comes out."

Ninth seed Simon eased past American wildcard Wayne Odesnik 6-3 6-2 and will now play Russian Igor Andreev, who beat Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 6-1 7-5.

Croatia's 14th seed Cilic beat another former world number one in Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-4, and will play another Spaniard in David Ferrer, who prevailed 7-5 6-2 over Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.

Jose Acasuso of Argentina set up a second-round meeting with world number one Federer by beating Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-4 6-3, but 15th seed Tommy Robredo of Spain fell 6-3 7-5 to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

World number six Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, beaten in the final of the Montreal Masters by Briton Andy Murray on Sunday, withdrew from the tournament citing fatigue, organisers said.


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