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Garcia-Lopez Opens Casablanca Account; Kubot Cruises

Casablanca, Morocco

Starace © FRMTPotito Starace dropped just three games in his second-round match.

After first-round exits on his two previous appearances in Casablanca, No. 2 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez opened his account at the Grand Prix Hassan II with a 6-3, 6-2 second-round victory over fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers on Wednesday at the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tennis tournament.

The 26-year-old Garcia-Lopez, who is this week up to a career-high No. 40 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, converted four of 11 break point chances and surrendered only 13 points behind his serve in the 86-minute encounter. He had received a bye through the first round.

The Spaniard suffered a slow start to the 2010 ATP World Tour season, losing in the first round at his first five tournaments before finding his form last month at the BNP Paribas Open, where he defeated World No. 9 Marin Cilic en route to the fourth round (l. to Monaco). He improved to a 5-7 mark on the year.

In the quarter-finals Garcia-Lopez will face eighth-seeded Frenchman Florent Serra, who rallied from a set down to defeat countryman Stephane Robert 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 in 84 minutes. Serra, who finished runner-up to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final last year, is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since Lyon (l. to Ljubicic) in October 2009.

Fourth-seeded Pole Lukasz Kubot was untroubled in his opening match, ousting former Top 10 Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-1. Making his main draw singles debut, Kubot countered losing his own serve three times by converting seven of 10 break point opportunities on Clement’s serve to prevail after one hour and 36 minutes.

The 27-year-old Kubot, currently a career-high No. 42 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, was a finalist on clay in Costa do Sauipe (l. to Ferrero) earlier in the year and, aided by strong performances in Doha (quarter-finals) and at the Australian Open (fourth round), has compiled a 12-8 record on the year so far.

Next up for Kubot is Italian Potito Starace, who advanced to his second ATP World Tour quarter-final of the year as he broke serve four times to crush Spaniard Oscar Hernandez 6-2, 6-1 in just 66 minutes. World No. 73 Starace also reached the last eight at the Medibank International Sydney (l. to Gasquet) in January and has compiled a 6-9 mark on the season.

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