• Berdych takes on Almagro in Cincinnati third round

    8/18/11 5:54 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Berdych takes on Almagro in Cincinnati third round A quarterfinal spot is at stake when Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro clash in Cincinnati on Thursday. The winner will go up against either Roger Federer or James Blake.

    Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they clash in the third round of the Western & Southern Open on Thursday.

    Berdych leads the head-to-head series 3-2, which is especially impressive against Almagro because all five of their previous encounters have come on clay. They most recently faced each other this season in Nice, where Berdych prevailed 6-4, 6-4. Almagro has not gotten the best of the Czech since taking a pair of meetings in 2005 and 2006.

    Going up against Berdych is an even tougher test on hard courts, but Almagro may be up to the challenge. The world No. 11 is one of the few Spaniards who does stellar work on faster surfaces and he is showing it once again in Cincinnati. Almagro disposed of countryman Albert Montanes in round one then took out 6'10'' Croat Ivo Karlovic in a third-set tiebreaker on Wednesday. This week's No. 9 seed is now a stellar 45-16 for his 2011 campaign.

    Berdych is also in the midst of a fine year, although maybe one not quite as good as his 2010 effort when he reached the French Open semifinals an the Wimbledon title match. The world No. 9 sustained the momentum from a Montreal quarterfinal appearance by handling Juan Monaco in straight sets on Tuesday. Berdych, the No. 8 seed, is 37-16 on the season.

    This could go either way, but recent head-to-head history and the surface do not bode well for Almagro. Count on Berdych booking his spot in another quarterfinal after two competitive sets.

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