• Almagro, Simon, Gonzalez take the court in Sao Paulo

    2/13/12 3:15 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Almagro, Simon, Gonzalez take the court in Sao Paulo The clay-court swing resumes this week with the Brasil Open. Among the contenders are Nicolas Almagro, Gilles Simon, and soon-to-be-retired Fernando Gonzalez.

    The "Golden Swing" continues this week at the Brasil Open, where clay-courters will be hoping to rack up ranking point after ranking point on the slow stuff. It's another big opportunity for everyone in the field, with the top players in the world either resting or in Rotterdam.

    Former Top 10 players Nicolas Almagro and Gilles Simon lead the way as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively. They faced each other in a 500-point clay-court final last season, when Simon beat Almagro in Hamburg.

    Both contenders--especially Simon--will be hard-pressed to reach the title match. Following a first-round bye, the Frenchman will likely open against David Nalbandian. Simon could meet Albert Montanes in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal against either Thomaz Bellucci or Juan Carlos Ferrero.

    Almagro is part of a soft top section of the draw that also includes Vina del Mar runner-up Carlos Berlocq. The Spaniard should be able to cruise into the last four, at which point he would probably expect to see Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco made it to the San Jose final last year, but he is opting for the clay courts of Sao Paulo this time around.

    This event also features the farewell tour of Fernando Gonzalez, who is retiring next month. Gonzalez, who advanced one round in Vina del Mar, will begin with a qualifier before a potential second-round clash against either Albert Ramos or Santiago Giraldo. The Chilean would run into Verdasco in the quarters if both veterans progress that far.

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