• Bellucci, Volandri square off in Sao Paulo semis

    2/18/12 3:52 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Bellucci, Volandri square off in Sao Paulo semis Thomaz Bellucci hopes to book a spot in the Sao Paolo final in front of his Brazilian fans on Saturday. Standing in his way is clay-court specialist Filippo Volandri.

    Thomaz Bellucci and Filippo Volandri will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they battle for a spot in the title match on Saturday at the Brasil Open. Their only previous meeting came last year on the clay courts of Santiago, where Bellucci dominated 6-2, 6-2.

    Bellucci has home-court advantage this time around in front of the Brazilian crowd. The world No. 38 had been just 2-3 for the season, including an opening loss two weeks ago in Vina del Mar. So far in Sao Paulo, however, Bellucci has scored three-set victories over Ricardo Mello and Leonardo Mayer. The No. 4 seed enjoyed raucous fan support in a comeback at Mayer's expense on Friday.

    The 2012 season is progressing not unlike any other for Volandri, who is borderline hopeless on any surface other than clay but is outstanding on the slow stuff. He lost in the first round of three straight hard-court tournaments and although he dropped his clay opener to Joao Souza in Vina del Mar, Volandri is back on track in Sao Paulo. The 30-year-old Italian has dismissed Albert Montanes, Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, and David Nalbandian.

    Bellucci's form has been far from stellar, but the crowd is keeping him alive. He may need similar help for this one, because Volandri is always dangerous during the "Golden Swing." This could go either way, but Volandri in three sets is the pick.

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