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Henman scores "small hours" victory over Safin

Written by: Staff
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MIAMI, Mar 24 (Reuters) Tim Henman burned the midnight oil to beat former world number one Marat Safin at the NASDAQ-100 Open while Mark Philippoussis endured two rain delays to advance.

Henman swept past Russia's Safin in a first-round battle of injury comeback players 6-3 6-3 after taking to the court around midnight.

The wait was worth it.

''To give myself a bit of credit, I've been playing all right,'' the Briton told reporters. ''That's why I'm not that surprised with the performance.

''You know, the result is the bonus. I feel the way I've played the last four weeks, I've been hitting the ball great.'' Former Wimbledon runner-up Philippoussis was also full of smiles after beating Italian Davide Sanguinetti 6-4 4-6 6-3 to reach the second round yesterday.

Philippoussis began in the afternoon and ended in the evening.

The players waited through an afternoon rain delay of four and a half hours.

SLEEP EASIER ''(I) got here at nine in the morning, it's definitely good to come out with a win after this long day,'' the Australian said.

''(It will) definitely make me sleep a lot easier tonight, that's for sure.'' In the women's field, India's Sania Mirza lost her opening match to Anna Tatishvili of Georgia 7-6 1-6 7-6. Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek out-gunned China's Zi Yan 6-3 5-7 6-1 while Japan's Shinobu Asagoe advanced when Spaniard Nuria Llagostera retired while trailing 7-6 2-3.

Britain's Greg Rusedski overcame an early run of five successive double-faults to beat Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-1.

''I don't remember starting a match with five double-faults in my career,'' Rusedski told reporters.

The left-hander trailed 3-1 after three double faults in his first service game and two more in his second. Rusedski fought back well to take the opening set and raced into a 5-0 lead in the second.

The Briton, who delayed the start of his season until February due to the birth of his first child, next plays 32nd seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, David Nalbandian and Andy Roddick are the top four seeds and received byes into the second round.

REUTERS AY BS1433

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