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Ferrer, Almagro To Face Off; Cilic Tops Isner

Madrid, Spain

Cilic© AFP/Getty ImagesMarin Cilic overcame John Isner to reach the third round.

World No. 6 David Ferrer advanced to the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday as he dismissed Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 6-2. The Spaniard won 84 per cent of points behind his first serve and converted two of three break points to claim victory in 86 minutes.

"I won the first set by a small margin," assessed Ferrer. "In the second one I was able to play more calmly and better and I've left with good feelings in the end."

The 30-year-old Ferrer has been one of the standout players on clay this season, compiling a 17-2 match record. He was victorious in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and Acapulco (d. Verdasco) and also finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the Barcelona final two weeks ago. 

The Valencia resident achieved his best result at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament two years ago, when he reached the semi-finals (l. to Federer). He goes onto face 11th seed Nicolas Almagro, a 6-3, 7-6(3) winner over Marcel Granollers.

Almagro leads the circuit with 18 match wins on clay this season, highlighted by the title in Sao Paulo and a runner-up finish to Ferrer in Buenos Aires. He will be looking for his first win against his countryman in their 10th career meeting and seventh on clay.

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Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka earned a third-round clash with defending champion Novak Djokovic after defeating Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka prevailed in 62 minutes after breaking serve three times and only surrendering nine points on serve. He will attempt to overturn a 2-9 record against World No. 1 Djokovic.

In a serve-dominated encounter, Marin Cilic overcame eighth seed John Isner 7-6(4), 7-6(3). Neither player was able to engineer a service break and Cilic withstood 14 aces from his American opponent before clinching victory in just under two hours. The 27-year-old Isner was playing his first match in nearly a month, since finishing runner-up to Juan Monaco on clay in the Houston final.

"I need to play aggressive," said Isner. "I felt like I did that today and I just wasn’t making my shots. When I didn't play aggressive I felt like I was just running back and forth. I served fine, served very well actually. I've got to get back to the drawing board and try to play better in Rome."

The 23-year-old Cilic is coming off a runner-up showing at the BMW Open in Munich (l. to Kohlschreiber) and improved to an 8-6 match record on the season. He goes onto face 10th seed Juan Martin del Potro, who advanced with a 6-4, 7-6(1) win over Mikhail Youzhny. Del Potro, coming off a title defence at the Estoril Open (d. Gasquet), is 3-0 against the Russian, defeating him in Madrid for the second straight year.

France’s Gael Monfils will face sixth seed Tomas Berdych in the third round. The 12th seed was leading 6-3, 1-0 when his opponent, Igor Andreev, was forced to retire. Monfils is playing his first tournament since the Sony Open Tennis in March.

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