• Tsonga, Verdasco square off at Madrid Masters

    5/8/13 11:49 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Tsonga, Verdasco square off at Madrid Masters Fernando Verdasco will be looking for a return trip to the Madrid quarterfinals when he takes the court on Thursday. Standing in Verdasco's way is world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fernando Verdasco will be facing each other for the fourth time in their careers when they meet in round three of the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday. Tsonga leads the head-to-head series 2-1 after winning their only previous clay-court encounter 7-6(7), 6-2 last year in Monte-Carlo.

    Verdasco is one win away from making a much-needed return to the quarterfinals, having to defend his 2012 points if he wants to prevent his ranking free-fall from continuing. The 46th-ranked Spaniard stunned countryman Rafael Nadal 7-5 in the third last year before getting blown out by Tomas Berdych in the last eight. Verdasco had been a dismal 3-8 this season prior to his arrival in Madrid, but he took care of David Goffin in straight sets then outlasted Milos Raonic 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(7) on Tuesday.

    Tsonga has been solid but unspectacular this year, owning a 20-6 record that includes a title in Marseille and quarterfinal results at the Australian Open, in Indian Wells, and in Monte-Carlo. The eighth-ranked Frenchman remained in fine form on the slow stuff with a 7-6(5), 7-6(2) win over Robin Haase on Wednesday.

    Verdasco in showing signs of life this week and he is playing at home, but it's hard to imagine him turning in three straight impressive performances. The former world No. 7 has not won three matches at any one event in 2013. Unless Tsonga serves terribly, the seventh seed should get the job done in straight sets.

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