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Thursday Briefing - Montpellier, Zagreb, Vina del Mar

Baghdatis© Getty ImagesMarcos Baghdatis won the Zagreb title on his one previous visit in 2009.

ZAGREB THURSDAY PREVIEW – FIVE SEEDS ATTEMPT TO REACH QUARTER-FINALS
• Three of the Top 4 seeds are in action Thursday as the second round wraps up at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, an ATP World Tour 250 event held on the indoor hard courts of the Croatian capital.This is the first time in the tournament’s history all eight seeds won opening round matches.

• First on Centre Court is No. 6 seed Marcos Baghdatis against Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. Though he fell early at the big one, Baghdatis has had a good start to 2012, going deep in both Australian Open lead-up events he played (quarters of Brisbane, semis of Sydney) and now tries to go deep again in Zagreb, where he won the title in his only previous appearance in 2009. He had to go to three sets to get through his first round match but in his only previous ATP World Tour meeting with Kubot everything went the Cypriot’s way - a 65-minute, 62 62 win at Brisbane in 2011.

• The second match pits No. 3 seed Mikhail Youzhny against Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja. Youzhny is trying to reach the quarter-finals of this event for the third time, having been a quarter-finalist here in 2006 and a semi-finalist here in 2007 (falling to Ivan Ljubicic both times). He beat Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets in the first round and will now try to continue his winning week against Zemlja, a first-time meeting. World No. 121 Zemlja has never been ranked higher than No. 110 - but the last two times Youzhny has faced players ranked outside the Top 100, he has lost.

• Next is No. 4 seed Ivan Dodig against Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. A year ago this was a semi-final match here, with a No. 84-ranked Dodig rallying from a set and a break down to upset a No. 29-ranked Garcia-Lopez, 46 76(5) 64, and reach his first ATP World Tour final (and win the title); this year the circumstances are much different, with Dodig ranked much higher (No. 38 to No. 77). That was the pair’s only previous ATP World Tour meeting. Dodig fired 21 aces in a tight first round win here over Marsel Ilhan, edging the Turkish No. 1, 76(5) 75.

• Last up is No. 8 seed Ivo Karlovic against Israel’s Dudi Sela. Karlovic is one of the biggest servers in ATP World Tour history and he was the year-end leader from 2007-09, hitting a personal-best 1,318 in ’07.  The Croat is over a foot taller than Sela, who is 5’9”, and in their only previous meeting he served up 15 aces during a four-set win at the Australian Open in 2008. At No. 73, Sela is by far Israel’s best player - the next-highest is No. 214 Amir Weintraub, and after that the next-highest is No. 800.

THURSDAY SECOND ROUND FedEx ATP Head 2 Head – In Order of Play

Centre Court

(6) Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs Lukasz Kubot (POL) Baghdatis Leads 1-0
11 Brisbane (Australia) Hard R16 Marcos Baghdatis 6-2 6-2
Other Meeting:
09 Ostrava CH (Czech Republic) Clay R32 Lukasz Kubot 6-4 6-1

Baghdatis FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
SF: Sydney (l Benneteau); QF: Brisbane (l Murray)
YTD W-L: 7-3
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: June 17, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 45

Kubot FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-3
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: May 16, 1982
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 61

(3) Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs Grega Zemlja (SLO)  First Meeting

Youzhny FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Doha (l Nadal)
YTD W-L: 3-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 7
Date of Birth: June 25, 1982
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 39

Zemlja FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: September 29, 1986
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 121

Ivan Dodig (CRO) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) Dodig Leads 1-0
11 Zagreb (Croatia) Hard SF Ivan Dodig 4-6 7-6(5)  6-4
Other Meeting:
07 Tunis CH (Tunisia) Hard R32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1 2-6 6-4

Dodig FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-3
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: January 2, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 38

Garcia-Lopez FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Auckland (l Verdasco)
YTD W-L: 4-3
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: June 4, 1983
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 77

Dudi Sela (ISR) vs (8) Ivo Karlovic (CRO)  Karlovic Leads 1-0
08 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R64 Ivo Karlovic 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 6-1

Sela FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Chennai (l Raonic)
YTD W-L: 3-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: April 4, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 73

Karlovic FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 4-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: February 28, 1979
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 46

Court 1

Lukas Lacko (SVK) vs (2) Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS)    First Meeting

Lacko FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 3-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: November 3, 1987
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 97

Bogomolov Jr. FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Sydney (l Benneteau)
YTD W-L: 5-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: April 23, 1983
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 35  

MONTPELLIER THURSDAY PREVIEW - BERDYCH & MONFILS IN ACTION AS SECOND ROUND CONCLUDES

One current and one former Top 10 fixture headline the order of play in Montpellier on Thursday, as the second round wraps up at the Open Sud de France, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament.

First on Court Central is No. 6 seed and top German Florian Mayer against France’s Nicolas Mahut. Mayer had to withdraw from the Australian Open with a hip strain and made a winning comeback to the ATP World Tour on Monday with a straight set-win over Gilles Muller. Now he will try to continue his first week back against another big server in Mahut. The Frenchman defeated Mayer in their last meeting in 2008 (they are 1-1 head-to-head) and he is also coming off his equal-best Grand Slam performance, a third round finish at the Australian Open (he went that far at Wimbledon in 2006).

Second on is top seed Tomas Berdych against French qualifier Florent Serra. Berdych was in top form in Australia, making it to his fifth career Grand Slam quarter-final (falling to Rafael Nadal in a tight four-setter). Now he plays his first match since then - it is also his first match in Montpellier. Although he is currently ranked No. 142, Serra has been as high as No.36 in his career, and is a former quarterfinalist at this event (in 2009 when it was held in Lyon). He does also have a win over Berdych, though it was on clay in 2006 - Berdych has won both of their hard court meetings.

Next up is No. 3 seed Gael Monfils against American Michael Russell. After a great start to the year, beating Nadal en route to the final of Doha, Monfils had a disappointing Australian Open, losing a dramatic five-setter in the third round to No. 92-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin. He has done well at this event before - he was a finalist in 2005 when it was held in Lyon, and the champion in 2010 when it was held here. Today he gets his week underway against the tenacious Russell. Monfils leads the head-to-head series, 2-0, but Russell has won sets in both of those meetings.

The last match sees No. 8 seed Jarkko Nieminen face French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu, who was ranked as high as No. 12 in 2008. He missed all of 2011 with a knee injury and made a winning return to the ATP World Tour on Tuesday, beating Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in straight sets. Nieminen has had a good start to 2012, winning his second ATP World Tour title in Sydney (as a qualifier) before the Australian Open. Their ATP World Tour head-to-head is tied, 1-1, but they most recently played in the qualifying of Toronto in 2010, with Nieminen winning in three tough sets.

THURSDAY SECOND ROUND FedEx ATP Head 2 Head – In Order of Play by Court

Court Central

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs (6) Florian Mayer (GER) Tied 1-1
06 Lyon (France) Carpet R32 Florian Mayer 7-6(5) 6-3
08 ATP Masters 1000 Miami (U.S.A.) Hard R128 Nicolas Mahut 7-6(6) 6-3

Mahut FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 3-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: January 21, 1982
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 78

Mayer FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: October 5, 1983
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 21

(1)Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs (Q) Florent Serra (FRA) Berdych Leads 2-1
06 ATP Masters Series Hamburg Clay R64 Florent Serra 6-4 0-6 7-5
10 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells (USA)Hard R64 Tomas Berdych 7-5 4-6 6-4
10 ATP Masters 1000 Paris (France) Hard R32 Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-1

Berdych FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Australian Open (l Nadal)
YTD W-L: 4-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 6
Date of Birth: September 17, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 7

Serra FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: February 28, 1981
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 142

Michael Russell (USA) vs (3) Gael Monfils (FRA) Monfils Leads 2-0
06 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R128 Gael Monfils 6-2 3-6 7-5 7-6(4)
09 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard R64 Gael Monfils 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3

Russell FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: May 1, 1978
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 110

Monfils FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
F: Doha (l Tsonga)
YTD W-L: 6-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: September 1, 1986
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 13

(8) Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs (WC) Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) Tied 1-1
06 Adelaide (Australia) Hard R32 Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-6(5)
09 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R128 Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 4-1 ret
Other Meetings:
01 Cordoba CH (Spain) Hard F Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 2-6 6-3
10 ATP Masters 1000 Toronto Qualify. Hard -- Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 4-6 7-5

Nieminen FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Sydney (d Benneteau)
YTD W-L: 7-2
YTD Titles: 1/Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: July 23, 1981
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 50

Mathieu FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-0
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: January 12, 1982
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: N/A

VINA DEL MAR THURSDAY PREVIEW – NO. 2 CHELA, NO. 3 BELLUCCI, NO. 7 BERLOCQ, GONZALEZ IN ACTION
• Second round action continues at the VTR Open on Thursday with three seeds and the tournament’s only four-time champion highlighting the order of play.

• In the opening match,Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis meets No. 3 seed and 2010 champion Thomaz Bellucci of Brazili for the first time. The 21-year-old Delbonis defeated local wild card Nicolas Massu in straight sets in the first round and he’s trying to reach his second career ATP World Tour quarter-final (or better). Last July, he qualified and advanced to his first ATP semi-final in Stuttgart (l. to Ferrero). Bellucci, who is the top Brazilian on the ATP World Tour, received an opening round bye, and he comes in with a 2-2 match record on the season.  The Sao Paulo resident has finished in the Top 40 the past three years, reaching a career-high No. 21 on July 26, 2010.

• In the second match, Brazilian Joao Souza takes on four-time champion and former World No. 5
Fernando Gonzalez for the first time. Souza, who upset No. 8 seed Filippo Volandri in a third set tie-break in the first round, is attempting to reach his fourth career ATP World Tour quarter-final or better. Last season he was a semi-finalist in Kitzbuehel and quarter-finalist in Bucharest. He is ranked No. 108 this week after reaching a career-high No. 84 on Sept. 19, 2011. Gonzalez improved his career mark to 32-6 in the tournament with a 64 64 first round win over Pere Riba in his season debut on Tuesday The 31-year-old Santiago resident, who has been hampered with a knee injury over the past year, won the title in 2002, ’04, ’08-09.

• In the third match, Argentines Horacio Zeballos and No. 2 seed Juan Ignacio Chela square off for the third time. Chela won both previous meetings on clay in 2010-11. Zeballos, who is ranked No. 113, is playing in his first ATP World Tour tournament of the season and he’s trying to reach his first quarter-final since Santiago last year (l. to Starace). Chela is attempting to advance to his third quarter-final on Chilean soil in four years (2009, ’11). The 32-year-old Argentine is ranked No. 25 and he enters with a 3-2 match record on the season. His best result was the third round at the Australian Open (l. to Ferrer).

• On Court 2, another all-Argentine encounter takes place between No. 7 seed Carlos Berlocq and qualifier Diego Junqueira. They have split six previous pro meetings (two Futures, four Challengers)
but this is the first time they are playing each other on the ATP World Tour. Both players won their first round matches in straight sets.

THURSDAY SECOND ROUND FedEx ATP Head 2 Head – In Order of Play by Court

Central Court

(Q) Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs (3) Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) First Meeting

Delbonis FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-0
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: October 5, 1990
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 172

Bellucci FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-2
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: December 30, 1987
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 37

Joao Souza (BRA) vs (WC) Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) First Meeting

Souza FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-1
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: May 27, 1988
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 108

Gonzalez FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-0
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 11
Date of Birth: July 29, 1980
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 290

Horacio Zeballos (ARG) vs (2) Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) Chela Leads 2-0
10 Houston (U.S.A.) Clay SF Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5 6-2
11 Buenos Aires (Argentina) Clay R16 Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5 6-2
Other Meetings:
09 Campos Do Jordao CH (Brazil) Hard SF Horacio Zeballos 6-4 3-6 6-2
09 Cali CH (Colombia) Clay SF Horacio Zeballos 7-6(3) 6-4

Zeballos FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-0
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: April 27, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 113

Chela FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 2-2
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 6
Date of Birth: August 30, 1979
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 25

Court 2

(7) Carlos Berlocq (ARG) vs (Q) Diego Junqueira (ARG) First ATP Meeting
Other Meetings (tied 3-3)
03 Argentina F3 (Buenos Aires) Clay R32 Carlos Berlocq 6-2 6-2
04 Slovenia F2 (Maribor) Clay QF Carlos Berlocq 6-2 6-1
05 Guayaquil CH (Ecuador) Clay R16 Diego Junqueira 7-6(5) 7-5
10 Guayaquil CH (Ecuador) Clay SF Diego Junqueira 6-3 7-5
10 Buenos Aires-2 CH (Argentina) Clay SF Diego Junqueira 7-6(4) 6-2
11 Turin CH (Italy) Clay QF Carlos Berlocq 6-3 6-1

Berlocq FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 3-2
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: February 3, 1983
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 55

Junqueira FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 1-0
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: December 28, 1980
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 125

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