• Almagro takes on Starace in Monte Carlo second round

    4/17/12 7:28 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Almagro takes on Starace in Monte Carlo second round Nicolas Almagro snagged the No. 8 seed in Monte Carlo, good for a first-round bye. He will contest his opener on Wednesday against Potito Starace.

    Nicolas Almagro and Potito Starace will be squaring off for the eighth time in their careers when they do battle in the second round of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday.

    Almagro is dominating the head-to-head series 6-1, including 4-1 on clay. Starace's lone victory came in their first meeting, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 decision six years ago in Poertschach. The Italian has to be relatively encouraged about their most recent result, an opening-round encounter two months ago in Buenos Aires. Almagro needed a third-set tiebreaker to survive 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).

    Aside from that, it has been a tale of two seasons for these two competitors. Almagro is an outstanding 24-7 for his 2012 campaign, which includes a title in Sao Paulo, a runner-up finish in Buenos Aires, and a quarterfinal showing in Indian Wells.

    Starace is just 5-10 at the ATP level this year. The world No. 81 reached the final of a clay-court Challenger event earlier this month but he got blown out by Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-0 last week in the Casablanca second round. Starace needed a wild card to get into the Monte Carlo main draw and he received more good fortune when Carlos Berlocq retired six games into their match on Tuesday (Starace led 4-2).

    Based on current form and most of their past history, don't expect another thriller like their Buenos Aires showdown. Almagro has to be considered one of the most dangerous clay-court players in the world right now and he should cruise in straight sets.

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