Safin edges past Ascione


The gifted but erratic Russian, hampered by injuries in recent years and has dropped out of the top 50, was made to work hard against a player ranked 168th in the world.

The 29-year-old Safin, who has lifted the Paris Masters trophy three times but is without a tournament win since the 2005 Australian Open, saved three match points with aces at 5-4 down in the final set. He eventually went on to take the tie-break 7-3 with a forehand volley on the first match point to seal victory after an hour and 52 minutes.

Earlier, former champion Tomas Berdych recorded a 6-3, 7-6 victory over another French qualifier, Vincent Millot.  Czech Berdych, who won the indoor event in 2005, struggled at times against an opponent ranked outside the top 200.

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