Safin upset by Spanish qualifier

Australian Open champion Marat Safin tumbled out of the Rome Masters on Wednesday, beaten by Spanish teenage qualifier Nicolas Almagro.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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Australian Open champion and second seed Marat Safin tumbled out of the Rome Masters on Wednesday, beaten by Spanish teenage qualifier Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3. But Roland Garros Champion Gaston Gaudio led an Argentinian advance into the last sixteen with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Italian hopeful Filippo Volandri. Spanish qualifier Nicolas Almagro upset Australian Open champion Marat Safin 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday in the second round of the Rome Masters. The 19-year-old matched the Russian's heavy ground strokes in long baseline rallies and chased down Safin's drop shots throughout the match. New generation The 101st-ranked Almagro, who had never won a Masters Series match until he beat Igor Andreev in the first round, broke Safin's serve to win the first set and then converted three more breaks in the second. Nineteen-year-old Almagro, who is world-ranked 101 and only reached the main draw through qualifying, was outclassed for most of the first set, but stubbornly fended off a succession of break points. Almagro's win underlined the strength of the new generation of Spanish claycourt specialists, spearheaded by his 18-year-old compatriot Rafael Nadal. The fifth seed also reached the last 16 by sweeping aside Romanian qualifier Victor Hanescu 6-1 6-1 and will now face Guillermo Canas. The fast improving Nadal now has a tour-best of 27 wins and 2 losses on clay this season. French Open champion and third seed Gaston Gaudio kept up the Argentinian presence in the Tournament with a comprehensive win over Italy's Filippo Volandri in two sets, 6-4 6-2. Also through was Ivan Ljubicic who scrapped past a resiliant Sebastien Grosjean in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. After his surprise two set win over seventh seed Carlos Moya, crowd favourite Potito Starace of Italy failed to quash anopther claycourt Spanish player, Alberto Martin. Down in the first the Italian pulled level 6-3, 3-6, but went down two breaks in the third.