• Nalbandian, Malisse in action at Heineken Open

    1/10/11 10:58 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nalbandian, Malisse in action at Heineken Open David Nalbandian and Xavier Malisse will contest their first-round matches in Auckland on Tuesday. They are set for meetings with Fabio Fognini and Arnaud Clement, respectively.

    (6) David Nalbandian vs. Fabio Fognini

    Nalbandian and Fognini will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they do battle in the first round of the Heineken Open on Tuesday. Their only previous encounter came three years ago on the clay courts of Buenos Aires, where Nalbandian won 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3.

    Facing Nalbandian on a hard court should be even tougher for Fognini, who comes in at No. 57 in the world and does his best work on the slow stuff. Nalbandian turned in a solid and mostly injury-free 2010 campaign, good for a current ranking of 27th. Look for the No. 6 seed to roll into round two without much trouble.

    (WC) Arnaud Clement vs. Xavier Malisse

    Clement, 33, and Malisse, 30, will be turning back the clock when they meet in the Auckland first round on Tuesday. They first faced each other 10 years ago, when Malisse prevailed on the grass courts of 's-Hertogenbosch. Overall, Malisse leads the head-to-head series 3-2, but Clement has won two straight. They most recently squared off at the 2007 Australian Open, in which Clement won an opening-round encounter 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

    Both veterans are still going strong. Clement, ranked 75th, finished runner-up to John Isner at this event last year. The Frenchman, however, lost his first match of the season to Ricardas Berankis last week in Brisbane. Malisse, up to No. 45 in the world, reached the Chennai Open final before losing to Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday. This is a quick turnaround for the Belgian, but based on current form he should be able to get the job done in three sets.

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