Marat Safin and Mikhail Youzhny put Russia in a commanding position after day one of their Davis Cup World Group clash with Romania by winning their respective singles matches in straight sets yesterday. Safin drew first blood with a victory over Victor Crivoi in the opening rubber. The opening set was a tightly fought affair but after Safin edged the tie-break he did not look back, prevailing 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4.
The two-time grand slam champion admitted it had not been the prettiest of matches but he was delighted to get Andrei Pavel's team off to a positive start. "It took me a long time to get used to the balls," he said. "It was not until the third set that I felt completely comfortable." Youzhny found the going even more straightforward against Victor Hanescu, romping to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win. The first day of Spain's clash with Serbia was postponed after high winds damaged the stadium. The tie was due to start later today, but is now likely to be put back a day and run from Saturday to Monday. David Ferrer was due to begin Spain's title defence in the opening singles against Novak Djokovic followed by world No 1 Rafael Nadal against Janko Tipsarevic.
At the Monterrey Open, Marion Bartoli cruised into the last eight with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Slovakian wild-card Magdalena Rybarikova. Playing in her first tournament since retiring from a third-round match against Vera Zvonareva in Dubai last month due to foot pain, the second seeded Frenchwoman won seven of nine break opponents in a match that lasted just 68 minutes. Bartoli will face Vania King after the American qualifier rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset over fifth seed Agnes Szavay of Hungary. The third seeded Italy's Flavia Pennetta, a runner-up to Venus Williams at Acapulco last week, failed to book her place in the round of eight, suffering a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4 upset to unseeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic.
* With agencies