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Verdasco Gets Finals Campaign Back On Track

Valencia, Spain

Fernando Verdasco© Getty ImagesFernando Verdasco snapped a four-match losing streak with victory over Michael Russell.

World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco got his Barclays ATP World Tour Finals qualification campaign back on track Monday as he snapped a four-match losing streak with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over American qualifier Michael Russell at the Valencia Open 500.

The Spaniard slipped out of the top eight qualification places to No. 9 in the year-to-date ATP Rankings after enduring a torrid Asian swing, when he fell in the opening rounds in Bangkok (l. to Becker), Beijing (l. to Kohlschreiber) and Shanghai (l. to de Bakker).

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However, he has the chance to make amends and secure his place at the season finale for the second year in a row, with 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points on offer to the winner in Valencia, and a further 1000 points available to win at the BNP Paribas Masters next week.

After squandering an early break advantage against Russell, the third-seeded Verdasco immediately regained the lead to win the first set, before breaking serve three more times in the second set to race to victory in 74 minutes. He improved to a 42-20 match record on the season, highlighted by winning the San Jose (d. Roddick) and Barcelona (d. Soderling) titles and reaching the finals in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal) and Nice (l. to Gasquet).

World No. 21 Stanislas Wawrinka opened his campaign with a close 7-6(2), 7-5 victory over Italian Andreas Seppi in the first round of the ATP World Tour 500 hard court tennis tournament. The Swiss No. 2 recovered from 3-5 deficit in the first set before winning the ensuing tie-break. He then broke serve decisively in the 11th game of the second set to clinch victory in just over two hours on his debut in Valencia.

The 25-year-old Wawrinka improved to a 34-17 match record on the season, highlighted by winning his second ATP World Tour title in Casablanca (d. Hanescu) and finishing runner-up in Chennai (l. to Cilic).

Frenchman Gilles Simon posted his 20th match win of the season, capitalising on three of 12 break point chances to defeat Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-3. Former World No. 6 Simon has struggled this season with a knee injury, but won his home country title in Metz last month (d. Zverev).

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