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  Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Safin struggles through
Marat Safin
Safin served a match point ace at 136 mph
Click here for results

Reigning US Open champion Marat Safin endured a torrid time on the Arthur Ashe court before winning through to the third round.

The Russian finally beat Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic in a heavy-hitting match that produced only two breaks of serve and went to four tie-breaks.

It was the first time in 10 years a US Open match had featured four tie-breaker sets.

It was very tough and I was lucky on tie-breakers, but I'm through
Marat Safin
Safin, the number three seed, won the first third and fourth, taking the match with an ace, his 16th of the contest.

"Last year, everything was perfect, I was playing unbelievable tennis. Now I'm struggling, it's very difficult to play, to fight, because I don't have enough confidence," Safin said after his win.

And it was nearly the third year in a row that the reigning champion had failed to reach the third round following Pat Rafter and Andre Agassi's first week stumbles in the last two years.

The Russian now faces the 28th seeded Moroccan Hicham Arazi who defeated Chris Woodruff 6-4 7-6 7-5.

All these guys are here to knock me off
Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras set up a fourth round clash with Russia's Mikhail Youzhny by cruising past Brazil's Andre Sa 7-6 6-4 6-3.

After a tight first set, Sampras exerted his authority without ever totally dominating his opponent.

But after going over a year without a tournament victory, the former world number one was just happy to make it safely into the third round.

"All these guys are here to knock me off," Sampras said.

"He played really wel, he was coming up with some good shots."

Andre Agassi was made to fight for over three hours on his way to a 6-7 6-4 6-2 7-6 win over Chile's Nicolas Massu.

The American lost to France's Arnaud Clement in the second round of last year's US Open and looked in danger of a similarly early exit when he dropped the first set.

Andre Agassi struggled into the third round
Andre Agassi struggled into the third round
Massu fired 18 aces but Agassi fought back to set up a third round meeting with either Paraguay's Ramon Delgado or Germany's Rainer Schuettler.

Thirteenth seed Roger Federer made it to the third round with a straightforward 6-2 7-5 6-1 victory over American wild card Robby Ginepri.

The Swiss was thankful for a quick win as he is still struggling with a groin injury he picked up at Wimbledon.

"I'm 95%, still not 100% for sure," said Federer. "When I'm pushing real hard, I still feel it. As long as I don't slip, have a terrible movement, it shouldn't be a problem.

"I have won my matches fairly easily. I like it that way, save more energy. It's getting tougher and tougher now."

Elsewhere on the fourth day at Flushing Meadows, Xavier Malisse set up a third round tie with Britain's Tim Henman, a clash of coach David Felgate's past and present charges.

Xavier Malisse
Xavier Malisse takes on Tim Henman next
The Belgian enjoyed a comfortable four set victory over the 21st seed, Fabrice Santoro of France.

Malisse raced through the first set without dropping a game, and, although Santoro won the second, the Belgian eased through the final two sets to win 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Henman was also taken to four sets against Brazil's Fernando Meligeni, a match he eventually won 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-4. Click here for more details

Former world number one Marcelo Rios was another player who rushed to victory beating Romania's Andre Pavel in one hour and 30 minutes.

"I gave it my everything. I'm 100% now and I'm looking forward to playing well again," the 25-year-old said after his victory over the 22nd seed.

Rios now faces the 14th seed, Sweden's Thomas Johansson.

Johansson beat Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.

Second round:

Andre Agassi (US, 2) beat Nicolas Massu (Chi) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-1)
Mariano Zabaleta (Arg) beat Taylor Dent (US) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) beat Jan-Michael Gambill (US, 20) 6-4 4-1 retired
Roger Federer (Swi, 13) bt Robby Ginepri (US) 6-2 7-5 6-1
Marat Safin (Rus, 3) bt Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5)
Hicham Arazi (Mor, 28) bt Chris Woodruff (US) 6-4 7-6 (7-1) 7-5
Marcelo Rios (Chi) bt Andre Pavel (Rom, 22) 7-5 6-4 6-0
Tim Henman (GB, 9) bt Fernando Meligeni (Bra) 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-4
Xavier Malisse (Bel) bt Fabrice Santoro (Fra, 21) 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-2
Thomas Johansson (Swe, 14) bt Andrea Gaudenzi (Ita) 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3

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BBC Sport's Barry Millns
"Safin was taken to four tie-breaks"
Marat Safin
"My tennis is coming back"
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