Almagro vs. Monaco preview and pick

Nicolas Almagro and Juan Monaco have a leg up on the Barcelona competition, as they completed their respective matches before rain hit on Thursday. Weather permitting, they will play just once on Friday–against each other in the quarterfinals.

(4) Nicolas Almagro vs. (7) Juan Monaco

Monaco and Almagro will be squaring off for the eighth time in their careers at the ATP level when they meet in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Friday. Almagro leads the head-to-head series 4-3, including 3-2 on clay. The Spaniard had won three in a row on the slow stuff prior to their most recent encounter, which resulted in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 Monaco victory last summer in the Hamburg semis.

Almagro has been solid–if unspectacular–throughout his 2013 campaign. The world No. 12 finished runner-up in Houston, reached two additional clay-court semifinals, and also advanced to the Australian Open quarters. So far in Barcelona he has dismissed Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers and Ivan Dodig in straight sets. Monaco is finally rounding into form after physical problems contributed to a slow start during the first three months of this season. The 20th-ranked Argentine made it to the last four in Houston before winning two matches in Monte-Carlo and taking a set off Novak Djokovic in the third round. Monaco did not lose a set in Barcelona victories over Bernard Tomic and Jeremy Chardy, with two of those four sets resulting in bagels.

Just a few weeks ago, this matchup would have projected to deliver a blowout in Almagro’s favor. Now, however, Monaco is heating up and should be able to make this one extremely competitive. Although the surface is clay, first-serve percentage will be key. Monaco’s second delivery is one of his game’s weak points and Almagro will abuse it if he gets plenty of looks. Meanwhile, if the No. 4 seed can serve well, himself, he will be able to take control of rallies and dictate with his one-handed backhand–by far the biggest weapon for either one of these two players. Almagro would prefer to face Monaco on a faster court, but he still should have a slight edge.

Pick: Almagro in 3

2 Comments on Almagro vs. Monaco preview and pick

  1. Loving this site by the way ..stumbled across it on Monday. Been on every day since checking the tips. Most of them have come in, so well done. Keep up the good work.

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