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Thursday Preview - Djokovic-Almagro, Simon-Isner Battle In Quarter-finals

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic plays his second straight Spaniard.

• The two quarter-finals from the top half of the draw take place Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open featuring the World No. 1 and reigning champion along with three players in their first quarter-final here.
 
• First up is World No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 12 seed Nicolas Almagro; there is some good news for the underdog, as Almagro notched his first career Top 10 win on hard courts in the fourth round by beating No. 7 Tomas Berdych (all 11 of his previous Top 10 wins were on clay, and he had been 0-15 against Top 10 players on hardcourts beforehand); the Spaniard is trying to reach his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final, his first coming on the clay of Madrid in 2010; Djokovic is the strong favorite on paper however, not only winning this title twice (in 2008 and 2011) but also winning both of their previous meetings. Djokovic is 15-1 against Spaniards since the beginning of last year.

• At night, No. 11 seed John Isner faces No. 13 Gilles Simon in a match-up between the No. 2 players from the U.S. and France. This also might be a preview of next month’s Davis Cup quarter-final in Monte-Carlo. After never getting beyond the round of 16 in his first 23 ATP Masters 1000 events, Isner made it all the way to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Paris last November and now in his very next one he has reached the quarters again; Simon has more experience at this stage of ATP Masters 1000 events, this being his seventh quarter-final (he is 2-4 in QF matches); Isner won the pair’s only previous meeting, in the fourth round of last year’s US Open, but it was a three-hour, 39-minute battle - Simon actually won more points in the match (155-151), though Isner out-aced him (26-6).

THURSDAY QUARTER-FINALS FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS – Top Half of Draw

Stadium 1

(1) Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs (12) Nicolas Almagro (ESP) Djokovic Leads 2-0
08 ATP Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay QF Novak Djokovic 6-1 1-0 ret
11 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R16 Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-4 6-0
Other meeting:
04 Manerbio CH (Italy) Clay QF Nicolas Almagro 6-4 6-2

DJOKOVIC FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:
• The 24-year-old Serb comes into the quarter-finals with a 25-4 match record, winning the title in 2008 (d. Fish) and last year (d. Nadal) while reaching the final in 2007 (l. to Nadal) and the quarter-finals in 2009 (l. to Roddick)
• He opened on Saturday with a 63 62 win over qualifier Andrey Golubev and on Monday followed with a 62 63 victory over No. 29 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa…On Wednesday, defeated Spaniard Pablo Andujar 60 67(5) 62 and saved all eight break points he faced

2012 Highlights:
W: Australian Open (d Nadal); SF: Dubai (l Murray)

2012 in Review:
• The World No. 1 is 13-1 on the season and he’s looking to reach the semi-finals for the third time in as many tournaments…His best result was winning fifth career Grand Slam title (third in a row) at Australian Open (d. Murray and Nadal in back-to-back five-setters in SFs and final)
• Since the beginning of last season, has compiled a sizzling 83-7 match record (70-6 in 2011)
• In his last outing in Dubai, reached SFs  to Murray) on March 2
• This is the 37th consecutive week the Serb has ranked No. 1 (since July 4, 2011) in the South African Airways ATP Ranking

ALMAGRO FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:

• The 26-year-old Spaniard is appearing in the quarter-finals for the first time after posting wins over Sam Querrey 57 64 64, Santiago Giraldo 46 62 76(2) and No. 7 Tomas Berdych 64 60
• His previous best result was the fourth round in 2010 (ret. vs. No. 4 Murray)

2012 Highlights:
W: Sao Paulo (d Volandri); F: Buenos Aires (l Ferrer); SF: Chennai (l Raonic); QF: Auckland (l Kohlschreiber); Acapulco (l Verdasco)
 
2012 in Review:
• The Murcia resident is playing in his seventh tournament of the year and he leads the ATP World Tour with 20 match wins (20-5)…He’s reached the QFs or better in all but one event
• His best result was his 11th career ATP World Tour title in Sao Paulo last month (d. Volandri), while reaching the final in Buenos Aires (l. to Ferrer), both on clay; and SFs in Chennai (l. to Raonic) in first week of campaign and QFs in (Auckland, Acapulco) along with 4th Rd. at Australian Open
• Posted his first Top 10 win (1-2) of the season on Wednesday over No. 7 Berdych and it was his first career Top 10 victory on hard courts (1-15)…Overall is 12-36 vs. Top 10 opponents

2012 MATCH WINS LEADERS – Almagro is the ATP World Tour match wins leader this season:
                                       W-L Titles
1) Nicolas Almagro           20-5   1
2) Roger Federer              19-2   2
    David Ferrer                 19-2   3
4) Juan Martin del Potro  +19-4   1   + with win on Wednesday night   

(13) Gilles Simon (FRA) vs (11) John Isner (USA) Isner Leads 1-0
11 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R16 John Isner 7-6(2)  3-6   7-6(2)  7-6(4)

SIMON FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:
• The 26-year-old Frenchman is 8-5 lifetime in Indian Wells and he’s appearing in the quarter-finals for the first time after defeating Dudi Sela 75 67(6) 64, No. 23 Stanislas Wawrinka 64 64 and Ryan Harrison 76(0) 57 61 in 2:55
• His previous best results were third round showings in 2007 (l. to Chela), 2009 (l. to Ljubicic) and last year (l. to Karlovic)
• The last Frenchman to reach the semi-finals or better here was Guy Forget in 1991 when he reached the final (l. to Courier)

2012 Highlights:
SF: Brisbane (l Dolgopolov); Montpellier (l Monfils)

2012 in Review:
• The No. 2 Frenchman (behind No. 6 Tsonga) is playing in his seventh tournament of the year (10-6 mark) and he’s trying to reach his third ATP World Tour semi-final, previous best results were SFs in first week of season in Brisbane (l. to Dolgopolov) and last month in Montpellier (l. to Monfils)…Also; 2nd Rd. three times (Australian Open, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires) and 1st Rd. once (Acapulco)
• He’s trying to post his first Top 20 win of the season (0-2) after losing to No. 15 Dolgopolov in the semi-finals of Brisbane and to No. 13 Monfils in the semis of Montpellier…His last Top 20 win came over No. 18 del Potro in the third round at the US Open last year

ISNER FASTFACTS

Tournament Highlights:
• The 26-year-old American is appearing in the quarter-finals for the first time after posting wins over Frederico Gill 75 63, No. 22 Juan Monaco 75 75 and Aussie qualifier Matthew Ebden 64 75…Has held serve all 34 games (saving six break points) while hitting 34 aces
• Also left in the doubles semi-finals (w/Querrey) and will face Mirnyi-Nestor in the semis on Friday
• Has a 10-4 career mark with all four losses to Top 10 opponents…His previous best result is fourth round in 2009 (l. to No. 6 del Potro) and 2010 (l. to No. 3 Nadal)…Also lost in the third round last year (l. to No. 8 Roddick)…Made debut in 2008 and lost to No. 4 Davydenko in second roun

2012 Highlights:
SF: Delray Beach (l Anderson); QF: Memphis (l Melzer)
 
2012 in Review:
• The No. 2 American (behind No. 8 Fish) is appearing in his third ATP World Tour quarter-final or better in a row after a semi-final showing in Delray Beach (l. to eventual champ Anderson) and quarters in Memphis (l. to eventual winner Melzer)…Has a 12-4 match record on the year and last year didn’t win his 12th and 13th matches until Newport in July
• Opened the season with opening round loss (after bye) to countryman Bobby Reynolds, then reached the third round at the Australian Open (l. to Lopez in five sets)
• Last month, posted the biggest win of his career over No. 3 Roger Federer in four sets in Davis Cup first round tie in Switzerland (saved 11 of 12 break points)…Then beat Marco Chiudinelli in dead rubber as U.S. won 5-0 to reach the quarter-finals vs. France next month (in Monte-Carlo)


BOTTOM HALF QUARTER-FINALS HEAD-TO-HEADS – To be played on Friday

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) vs Roger Federer (SUI) Federer Leads 10-2
07 Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass R64 Roger Federer 6-2 7-5 6-1
07 Basel (Switzerland) Hard R16 Roger Federer 6-1 6-4
08 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid (Spain) Hard QF Roger Federer 6-3 6-3
09 Australian Open (Australia) Hard QF Roger Federer 6-3 6-0 6-0
09 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid Clay SF Roger Federer 6-3 6-4
09 Roland Garros (France) Clay SF Roger Federer 3-6 7-6(2) 2-6 6-1 6-4
09 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard F Juan Martin Del Potro 3-6 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2
09 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals  Hard RR Juan Martin Del Potro 6-2 6-7(5)  6-3
11 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati Hard R32 Roger Federer 6-3 7-5
12 Australian Open (Australia) Hard QF Roger Federer 6-4 6-3 6-2
12 Rotterdam (The Netherlands) Hard F Roger Federer 6-1 6-4
12 Dubai (U.A.E.) Hard SF Roger Federer 7-6(5) 7-6(6)

OR

Denis Istomin (UZB) vs Roger Federer (SUI)  Federer Leads 2-0
06 Australian Open (Australia) Hard R128 Roger Federer 6-2 6-3 6-2
10 ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati (U.S.A.)Hard R32 Roger Federer 5-2 ret 

David Nalbandian (ARG) vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) Nadal Leads 3-2
07 ATP Masters Series Madrid (Spain) Hard QF David Nalbandian 6-1 6-2
07 ATP Masters Series Paris (France) Hard F David Nalbandian 6-4 6-0
09 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells  Hard R16 Rafael Nadal 3-6 7-6(5)  6-0
10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard R32 Rafael Nadal 6-7(8)  6-2   6-2
11 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R32 Rafael Nadal 7-6(5)  6-1   7-5

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