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Monaco Fights For Quarter-final Spot

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Maximo GonzalezSergio LlameraMaximo Gonzalez

Argentina’s Juan Monaco, the 2007 champion, fought for his place in the Copa Telmex quarter-finals with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 victory over compatriot Martin Vassallo Arguello on Thursday at the at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Buenos Aires.

World No. 67 Monaco, who made a perfect start with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Sergio Roitman in the first round, could have made smoother progress had he capitalised on more than four of the 14 break point chances he created in the two-hour and 13-minute match. The Buenos Aires resident won the title in 2007 with victory over Alessio Di Mauro and has a 10-4 event record.

"It was tough match," said Monaco. "The conditions made it tough for both of us. It was really hot out there and I was glad I was able to keep my intensity high throughout the match."

The 24-year-old Monaco is through to his second ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season after also reaching the last eight in Vina del Mar (l. to F. Gonzalez) two weeks ago. Last season the right-hander finished in the Top 50 for the season straight year, courtesy of a 19-9 record on clay and two ATP World Tour runner-up finishes at Vina del Mar (w/o vs. Gonzalez) and Poertschach (l. to Davydenko).

In the quarter-finals he will face Argentine qualifier Maximo Gonzalez (pictured), who cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over compatriot Brian Dabul. Monaco said: "I'm very happy to play Maxi in the quarterfinals tomorrow. He is one of my best friends since we are kids and I'm sure it will be a great match."

The 25-year-old Gonzalez faced no break points, while converting five of nine opportunities on the 84th-ranked Dabul’s serve, to wrap up victory in 65 minutes. Gonzalez dropped just seven points in the pair’s first tour-level meeting.

World No. 108 Gonzalez caused an upset in the first round by knocking out fourth seed and two-time former champion Carlos Moya in straight sets. The Tandil native is through to an ATP World Tour quarter-final for the first time since Umag in July 2008, when he went on to reach the semi-finals (l. to Andreev).

Fifth-seeded Argentine Jose Acasuso reached an ATP World Tour quarter-final for the third straight week, breaking Italian Fabio Fognini once in each set to secure a 6-4, 6-3 victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

"I think I was able to convert the chances I had during the match," said Acasuso. "It was a close match decided in a few points. In the two times I broke him he made a few mistakes which helped me quite a bit."

Acasuso, currently No. 35 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, opened his 2009 tennis season with a runner-up finish at Vina del Mar two weeks ago (l. to F. Gonzalez) and followed with a semi-final showing last week in Costa do Sauipe (l. to Robredo).

He said: "I didn't play as well as I did in Vina del Mar and Costa do Sauipe but I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals. Tomorrow should be cloudy which could help the players because the heat has been tough on us."

The 26 year old now has a 20-9 record in his hometown tournament, and is looking to reach the final for the third time. He was runner-up in the inaugural edition of the Copa Telmex in 2001 (l. to Kuerten) and again last year (l. to Nalbandian).

He will next confront Spaniard Oscar Hernandez, the No. 8 seed, who regrouped to defeat Argentine Diego Junqueira 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0. Hernandez won 86 per cent of his first serve points in the final set, while Junqueira managed to win just 23 per cent.

It marked Hernandez's 50th match win at the tour-level. The 30 year old stunned No. 2 seed Nicolas Almagro in the first round to win his first ATP World Tour match of the 2009 tennis season.

 

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