MOSCOW - Czech eighth seed Lucie Safarova advanced past Russia's wild card Margarita Gasparyan and into the second round of the Kremlin Cup here on Monday.
On the opening day of the joint WTA and ATP $1.5-million tournament the left-hander beat the 18-year-ol0d home favourite 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours two minutes.
Moscow-born Gasparyan started confidently, taking a 3-1 lead with an early break but Safarova than moved up a gear to win five consecutive games for a one-set lead in 38 minutes.
The opponents traded breaks early in the second and held serve until the 10th game when Gasparyan, 227th in the world, broke again to level at one set all after one hour 27 minutes on court.
In the deciding set Safarova, a semi-finalist here last year, was in complete command, breaking her rival's serve twice before serving out the match at love.
"I met her for the first time and I didn't know whom I was playing against while she was serving very well and took the lead," Safarova said.
"But I kept on fighting and won the first set."
"I was a bit down in the second allowing her to level but I caught my tennis right away at the beginning of the third to take the set and the match. I'm happy to win tonight."
Safarova will now meet compatriot Klara Zakopalova, who ousted Alexandra Cadantu of Romania 6-3, 6-3.
The 21-year-old Pole, Urszula Radwanska, beat 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy, unseeded here, 6-3, 6-1 to record her second win over the 32-year-old veteran in as many meetings.
Schiavone, the 2009 Kremlin Cup champion, started with an immediate break but Radwanska broke back twice to grab a 1-0 lead in 41 minutes.
In the second set Radwanska, who is still seeking her maiden title here, underlined her domination by breaking Schiavone's serve on three more occasions to set up a meeting with third seed Dane Caroline Wozniacki.
In ATP action sixth seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan battled back from a set down to beat Germany's Bjorn Phau 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.
In the match for a place in the quarter-finals Istomin will meet Czech Lukas Rosol, who beat Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver on the hardcourts of Moscow's Olympic indoor arena in straight tiebreaks.
Eight seed Tatsuma Ito of Japan also advanced into the second round beating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
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