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  • Gulbis goes up against Troicki with Nadal looming

    5/14/13 8:43 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Gulbis goes up against Troicki with Nadal looming Ernests Gulbis will face Viktor Troicki on Wednesday in Rome with the winner likely to meet Rafael Nadal in round three. Gilles Simon and Mikhail Youzhny are also in action.

    Viktor Troicki vs. (Q) Ernests Gulbis

    Troicki and Gulbis will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Wednesday evening. Gulbis has already won three matches this week, having qualified for the main draw before improving to 5-0 lifetime against Jarkko Nieminen with another straight-set victory on Monday. The 46th-ranked Latvian is four for four in qualifying attempts this year and he is an outstanding 18-6 at the ATP main-draw level.

    Troicki, on the other hand, is a modest 10-12 for the season. However, the world No. 42 avenged a blowout loss to Lukas Rosol in Bucharest by overcoming the lucky loser 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday. For the most part, though, Troicki is lacking confidence and he is not as comfortable as Gulbis on clay. Count on Gulbis advancing in straight sets for a likely third-round date with Rafael Nadal.

    Mikhail Youzhny vs. Gilles Simon

    Simon and Youzhny will be squaring off for the 10th time in their careers when they do battle on Wednesday. Youzhny leads the head-to-head series 7-2, but Simon won their only previous clay-court encounter 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 two years ago in Hamburg. They have not faced each other since.

    A decided edge in current form goes to Simon, who improved to 21-12 for his 2013 campaign with a hard-fought, three-set win over Filippo Volandri on Tuesday. Youzhny is still a poor 10-11 for the season, but he may be heating up on clay. The 30-year-old Russian advanced two rounds in Madrid and he upset Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 in his Rome opener. Youzhny's past history against Simon is encouraging, but he simply is not the same player he was when he once surfaced inside the Top 10. Look for the Frenchman to get through this one in three sets.

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