Moscow:Marat Safin struggled to beat Russian qualifier Denis Matsukevitch 7-6 (2), 7-5 on Tuesday and advance to the second round of the Kremlin Cup.
The 28th-ranked Safin, who only recently returned from a hiking trip in Nepal, was playing as a wild card.
"I thought he would be scared," Safin said. "But he wasn't and dragged me to a tiebreaker in the first set."
Safin's doubles parter, seventh-seeded Dmitry Tursunov, beat German qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (0), 6-2 and will next face Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, who rallied to beat Fabrice Santoro of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
On the women's side, eighth-seeded Nicole Vaidisova struggled to beat Russian qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Matsukevitch, ranked 422nd, was playing in his first ATP event. He broke Safin, seed No 5, in the fourth game of the second set, but Safin broke back immediately and again in the 11th game.
Safin played after cutting short his trip to climb Cho-Oyu, the world's sixth-highest peak. "At least I've done something I wanted to do all my life," Safin said. "But next time I have a chance, I'll try to be more prepared."
Tursunov originally planned to play doubles with Igor Kunistsyn, but Russia Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev has asked him to play with Safin to practice a possible pair to face the Bryan brothers in the United States vs. Russia Davis Cup final in Portland, Oregon, November 30-December 2.
Davydenko traded breaks early in the first set, then won the tiebreaker without his French opponent scoring a point. The fourth-ranked Russian twice broke Tsonga in the second set.
Davydenko said he watched Tsonga play at the US Open, where the Frenchman often advanced to the net. "I was preparing myself for his style of playing," said Davydenko, who lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the US Open. "However, he was not playing this way, making life much easier for me today."
Fourth-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu, who won the Kremlin Cup in 2002, defeated Sebastien Grosjean 6-2, 6-2.
"It's great to beat someone you've never beaten before," said Mathieu, who lost to Grosjean in their three previous matches.
Vaidisova won a first-set tiebreaker before the 130th-ranked Shvedova broke in the first game of the second set. But the Czech broke back immediately, went up 4-1 and was never threatened.
"It was a good test for me today," Vaidisova said. "She is an up-and coming player and I really had to be focused to get through that first set. Once we got into the second set, I felt a lot more confident out there, and I felt I finished strongly."
Vaidisova next plays Elena Vesnina of Russia, who beat Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4.
Tatiana Perebiynis of Ukraine beat Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 and will next face fourth-seeded Serena Williams, who had a first-round bye.