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Nalbandian Hot Streak Continues, Faces Murray Next

Toronto, Canada

Nalbandian© Getty ImagesDavid Nalbandian continues his impressive hard-court form in Toronto.

Hot Argentine David Nalbandian extended the longest winning streak of his career with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over fifth seed and two-time Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling to reach the Rogers Cup quarter-finals Thursday. Nalbandian, who has now won 11 consecutive matches, will next face World No. 4 and defending champion Andy Murray, a 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 winner over Frenchman Gael Monfils

The 28-year-old Nalbandian, who last week won his 11th ATP World Tour title at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, claimed six breaks of serve against the powerful Soderling to set up victory. The 2003 Montreal finalist, a winner of two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, has run into some of the best form of his life after battling a series of injuries. 

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He’s only played in five ATP World Tour events this year, having reached quarter-finals at Buenos Aires (w/o to Montanes) in February and Monte Carlo (l. to Djokovic) in April. He now has a 20-3 season record, including 15-2 on hard courts. Nalbandian returned to action in February after nine months out (hip surgery); he also missed more than two months between April and July (hamstring injury).

Although Nalbandian was pleased to defeat World No. 5 Soderling, he said the victory was not significantly more important than others during his 11-match winning streak, which includes six victories over players in the Top 25. "It's a good victory for me. [But] I don't see this match [as beating a] different category of player than others that I beat last week or even David Ferrer this week. I spent a long time outside the courts and I'm enjoying every time I play. The break gave me more motivation to come, to play, to enjoy it, and work on my last few years on the tour."

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Defending champion Murray suffered a mid-match lapse Thursday afternoon, managing to win just six service points in the second set while the 15th-seeded Monfils converted all three of his break point chances. It marked the second time this year that the British No. 1 had been bagelled in a set, with Marcos Baghdatis preventing Murray from getting a tally in the third set of their third round match at Roland Garros.

“It's happened a few times, but I've always managed to turn it around in the end,” said Murray. “The start of that third set was important.  I was dictating a lot of the points in the first set and let him back in in the second and needed to make sure I started dictating again. And I came forward, came to the net a little bit more in the third and it helped.”

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Similar to the match at the clay-court Slam, Murray made a strong recovery to clinch the victory with three breaks of serve in the ensuing set. He broke Monfils twice to establish a 4-1 lead, and though the Frenchman recovered one break, he later double-faulted on match point for Murray.

The 23 year old is looking to become the first player to defend the Rogers Cup title since American Andre Agassi claimed back-to-back trophies in 1994 and ’95. He’s posted his best results this year on hard-courts, reaching the final at the Australian Open (l. to Federer) and two weeks ago in Los Angeles (l. to Querrey).

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