• Simon, Almagro begin Sao Paulo campaigns

    2/16/12 3:26 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Simon, Almagro begin Sao Paulo campaigns Top two seeds Gilles Simon and Nicolas Almagro will contest their openers on Thursday in Sao Paolo. They are going up against David Nalbandian and Victor Hanescu, respectively.

    David Nalbandian vs. (2) Gilles Simon

    Nalbandian and Simon will be squaring off for the third time in their careers when they meet in round two of the Brasil Open on Thursday night. They split their two previous matchups (both on hard courts); Nalbandian won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the Washington, DC quarterfinals in 2010 before Simon got revenge with a 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 a few months later in Montpellier.

    Seeded second in Sao Paulo, Simon is coming off a semifinal performance in Montpellier. The 12th-ranked Frenchman is a modest 6-3 so far for his 2012 campaign. Nalbandian scored a four-set victory over Florian Mayer last week in Davis Cup action as visiting Argentina swept Germany. The 30-year-old opened this week with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win at the expense of Benoit Paire. Look for Simon to get the job done in a tight three-setter.

    (1) Nicolas Almagro vs. Victor Hanescu

    Almagro and Hanescu will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in the Sao Paulo second round on Thursday. All four of their previous encounters--including three on clay--have gone Almagro's way. The Spaniard most recently prevailed 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in last year's Nice final.

    Hanescu will be hard-pressed to get over the hump because Almagro has a big edge in current form. The world No. 11 reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and rolled over Andrey Golubev in a Davis Cup rubber last weekend. Hanescu won his second match of the season on Tuesday, ousting Joao Souza 6-3, 6-3. The Romanian can keep this close if he serves well, but Almagro in straight sets is the pick.

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