Paris Masters: Safin through to round 2

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Three-time champion Marat Safin of Russia is through to the second round of the Paris Masters.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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With so many of the top players absent from the Paris Masters, the match between Russia's Marat Safin - winner of this event three times - and local favourite Nicolas Mahut was bound to get the attention of the crowd. Safin, the winner in 2000, 2002 and 2004, has failed to make the final only once in five previous visits. The Russian showed some of his former best play in the opening set as he easily claimed that by six games to one. Mahut fought back in the second set - maybe the home crowd support helped? Certainly he managed to force a tie-break but in the end his Russian opponent was simply too strong and he took the second set 7-6 (5) for the match and a place in the second round. The tournament marks Safin's last chance to win a title this year. The Russian fell out of the top 100 before the US Open following knee surgery but was back in the top 50 after reaching this month's final in Moscow. Safin next faces Robin Soderling of Sweden. In other later matches on Monday, Belgian player Kristof Vliegan defeated another French player, Florent Serra 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). However one French player did taste victory - Paul-Henri Mathieu over Italy's Andreas Seppi. Mathieu progressed with a straightforward 6-2, 6-4 win. (AP)

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