Rome:Tommy Robredo rallied to beat two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Tuesday in a rain-delayed match in the first round of the Rome Masters.
Safin was broken when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and the Russian didn't even bother to move when the 13th-seeded Robredo hit a returnable serve to close the match out.
"At the end of the third set, I knew that if I was tough mentally I could beat him," Robredo said. "It was a great comeback."
The start of the match was delayed for nearly two hours by rain, then was interrupted a further 2 1/2 hours with Safin ahead 4-2 in the first set.
The 20th-ranked Safin dictated play at the start with his powerful groundstrokes, but began to make more mistakes as the match wore on, finishing with 39 unforced errors to Robredo's 38.
Safin led 36-27 in winners but the former top-ranked player has still not advanced past the third round this year.
Both players slipped and fell on occasion due to the slippery conditions.
"The shoes would pick up so much clay that it was like ice skating," Robredo said. "There was no grip at all."
Robredo leads the tour with 17 wins on clay this year. He won clay-court titles in February in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Barcelona, Spain.
Robredo will next face Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who also came back from a set down, eliminating Simone Bolelli of Italy 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Also, Robin Soderling of Sweden beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-3, 6-0 before rain stopped play again with six matches under way.
Mikhail Youzhny managed to finish off his suspended match with Daniel Gimeno-Traver, advancing to the second round with a 7-5, 6-4 win.
The match between the two qualifiers was suspended on Monday with Youzhny leading 7-5, 5-4, and the Russian held serve before more rain began falling at the Foro Italico.
The 67th-ranked Youzhny will next face 10th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to play Spanish clay-courter Albert Montanes later, while Andy Murray's match against Argentine qualifier Juan Monaco in the second round was postponed until Wednesday.
The Rome Masters is a key clay-court warmup for the French Open, which starts May 25.