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Rediff.com  » Sports » Starace ousts Safin in Swedish Open

Starace ousts Safin in Swedish Open

July 10, 2008 09:41 IST

Potito Starace beat Russian Marat Safin in the second round of the Swedish Open on Wednesday to take his second win in a row over a former world number one at the claycourt tournament.

The Italian, who beat Spain's Carlos Moya in the previous round, took advantage of Safin's lack of recent claycourt practice to win 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 and set up a meeting with Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

"I played as well as I could but it's tough to change surfaces in such short time," said Safin, who last week reached the Wimbledon semi-finals where he was beaten by Roger Federer.

Although losing by little against Starace, Safin struggled to find his game and threw his racket in anger several times.

In a night match, Berdych beat Swede Thomas Johansson 7-6, 6-2.

The Czech, who lost the final here in 2005 to Rafael Nadal, grabbed a 4-0 lead in the tie-breaker and went on to clinch it 7-2. In the second set Johansson's game crumbled under the pressure of Berdych's heavy groundstrokes and hard serving.

Second seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain reached the quarter-finals without breaking into a sweat as his Swedish opponent Ervin Eleskovic retired at 6-0, 4-2 with a groin injury after just 45 minutes.

Verdasco next faces another Swede in Bjorn Rehnquist, a qualifier who beat compatriot Michael Ryderstedt 6-3, 7-5.

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