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Nalbandian Makes Strong Start; Ferrero Prevents Argentine Sweep

Buenos Aires, Argentina

David NalbandianSergio LlameraDavid Nalbandian

Argentine David Nalbandian began his title defence at the Copa Telmex with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Ecuadorian Nicolas Lapentti on Monday in Buenos Aires. Nalbandian won his home country ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament for the first time last year by defeating countryman Jose Acasuso in the final.

The World No. 10 maintained his perfect record against Lapentti in the fourth meeting between the two players. Nalbandian converted on four of his five break points against the former World No. 6 en route the 72-minute win.

"I think it was a good beginning," said Nalbandian. "It had been a long time since I last played on clay, so I'm happy with the performance. I think Nico played a decent match, but I played better. I didn't feel the ball well in the beginning but by the end of the first set I was better adapted."

Nalbandian made a strong start to the 2009 tennis season, winning his 10th title at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Sydney. He failed to carry the momentum to Melbourne, however, as he was upset in the second round by Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu.

Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela pleased home fans with a 6-3, 6-2 first round victory over Spaniard Alberto Martin. The Buenos Aires resident broke serve four times from eight opportunities in the 69-minute match to improve to a 7-1 head-to-head record against Martin. In the second round he will face either Italian Potito Starace or third seed Tommy Robredo.

World No. 138 Chela, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 15 in August 2004, is making his ninth appearance at his home event. His best results came in 2002 (l. to Calleri) and 2008 (l. to Nalbandian) when he reached the semi-finals. The 29-year-old Chela opened his season with a quarter-final showing in Vina del Mar (l. to Robredo) two weeks ago.

Another Buenos Aires native, Brian Dabul, saved three match points in the second set before going on to defeat Frenchman Nicolas Devilder 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 35 minutes. Dabul came into his Buenos Aires debut ranked a career-high No. 84 after reaching the second round in his three previous tour-level appearances this season.

Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain prevented the clean sweep by Argentine players Monday as he broke Agustin Calleri once in each set to post the 6-3, 6-4 win. Ferrero and Calleri had split their previous two meetings, both played on clay six years ago.

The 29-year-old Ferrero reached the quarter-finals last week at the Brasil Open in Costa do Sauipe (l. to Bellucci) to break back into the Top 100 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings. He is making his third appearance in Buenos Aires, and reached the semi-finals on his event debut in 2006 (l. to Moya).

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