• Monfils meets Montanes, Almagro takes on Monaco

    10/31/11 11:19 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Monfils meets Montanes, Almagro takes on Monaco Seeds Gael Monfils and Nicolas Almagro will kick off their Valencia campaigns on Tuesday. They are set for respective encounters with Albert Montanes and Juan Monaco.

    Albert Montanes vs. (3) Gael Monfils

    Montanes and Monfils will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in round one of the Valencia Open 500 on Tuesday. Surprisingly, Montanes has won both of their previous encounters. He beat Monfils back in the 2005 Bucharest event then captured the 2010 Stuttgart title via second-set retirement after taking the first 6-2.

    Monfils should not have too much trouble turning the tide on an indoor hard court. The 10th-ranked Frenchman is 36-14 for the season and he is coming off his fourth career ATP title two weeks ago in Stockholm. He also has a major surface advantage over Montanes, who is a disappointing 22-24 for the year. The 56th-ranked Spaniard has won only two of his last eight ATP matches. Count on Monfils advancing in straight sets.

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

    Almagro and Monaco will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they do battle in first-round action on Tuesday. Since Monaco won a 2007 encounter, Almagro has won four in a row. They most recently faced off at the 2010 Madrid Masters, where Almagro prevailed 6-4, 6-1. This Valencia showdown marks their first-ever hard-court match.

    Monaco is by no means at his best indoors, but he reached the Shanghai Masters semis last year then stunned Andy Murray at this very same Valencia event. This season, though, the 41st-ranked Argentine is 0-2 during the fall swing after reaching round four at the U.S. Open. Almagro registers at 11th in the world and he owns a 47-21 record in 2011, but he has cooled off starting with a first-round loss in New York. This could go either way, but Monaco in a tight three-setter is the pick.

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