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Nice, Dusseldorf Friday Briefing

Baker© Yohan Brandt/Open de Nice Côte d’AzurBrian Baker aims to reach his first ATP World Tour final Friday in Nice.

• Final preparations for Roland Garros continue on Friday as the semi-finals take the clay courts of the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur with two former Top 10 players squaring off first followed by a former World No. 3 and American qualifier appearing in his first career ATP World Tour semi-final.

• The first semi-final pits two former Top 10 players who have made it through the draw without even losing a set - No. 2 seed Gilles Simon and No. 3 seed Nicolas Almagro; both players have won most of their matches this year on clay (Simon 14 of 27, Almagro 22 of 32) and both have won titles on clay this year (Simon in Bucharest, Almagro in Sao Paulo), and the head-to-head is also very close - Simon leads the overall series, 2-1, but they are tied 1-1 on clay (and their last meeting, on the clay courts of Hamburg last year, was a two-hour, 38-minute marathon that went in favor of the Frenchman, 64 46 64.

•  The second semi-final pits Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko against American qualifier Brian Baker; Davydenko, a former World No. 3 who is currently down at No. 53 after coming into this week with a  9-10 record on the season; has three impressive wins this week, including against two seeds (No. 7 Denis Istomin in the second round and top seed John Isner in the quarter-finals). He now faces Baker in what is the American comeback kid’s first ever ATP World Tour semi-final. He had to save match point against Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarter-finals and he beat No. 4 seed Gael Monfils in the second round on Wednesday. This is a first-time meeting


(3) Nicolas Almagro (ESP) vs (2) Gilles Simon (FRA) Simon Leads 2-1
06 Valencia (Spain) Clay F Nicolas Almagro 6-2 6-3
10 FRA vs. ESP WG QF (France) Hard RR Gilles Simon 7-6(4) 7-6(7)
11 Hamburg (Germany) Clay F Gilles Simon 6-4 4-6 6-4

Almagro FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Sao Paulo (d Volandri); F: Buenos Aires (l Ferrer); SF: Chennai (l Raonic); QF(3): Auckland (l Kohlschreiber); Acapulco (l Verdasco); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l Djokovic)
YTD W-L: 32-11 (22-6 on clay)
YTD Titles: 1
Career Titles: 11
Date of Birth: August 21, 1985
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 14

Simon FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Bucharest (d Fognini); SF(3): Brisbane (l Dolgopolov); Montpellier (l Monfils); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo (l Nadal); QF: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l Isner)
YTD W-L: 27-12 (16-7 on clay)
YTD Titles: 1
Career Titles: 10
Date of Birth: December 27, 1984
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 12

Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) vs (Q) Brian Baker (USA)  First Meeting

Davydenko FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
SF: Rotterdam (l Federer)
YTD W-L: 12-10 (4-3 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 21
Date of Birth: June 2, 1981
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 53 OR 48

Baker FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 3-0 (3-0 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: April 30, 1985
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 216


Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP) Almagro Leads 2-1
06 ATP Masters Series Rome (Italy) Clay R16 Nicolas Almagro 7-6(6) ret
07 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R32 Nikolay Davydenko 7-5 6-0 7-5
11 Barcelona (Spain) Clay R16 Nicolas Almagro 7-6(2) 6-3

Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) vs Gilles Simon (FRA) Simon Leads 5-2
07 Hamburg Clay R32 Nikolay Davydenko 6-7(5) 6-4 7-5
07 Umag (Croatia) Clay R32 Gilles Simon 6-2 2-6 6-3
07 New Haven (U.S.A.) Hard R16 Gilles Simon 6-4 6-4
09 ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati (USA) Hard R16 Gilles Simon 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4
10 Valencia (Spain) Hard QF Gilles Simon 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
11 Marseille (France) Hard R32 Gilles Simon 7-6(6) 6-4
11 Valencia (Spain) Hard R32 Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 4-6 6-3

Brian Baker (USA) vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP)  First Meeting

Brian Baker (USA) vs Gilles Simon (FRA)  First Meeting

• After grabbing 1-0 leads on Thursday, the Czech Republic and Serbia are one win away from reaching the final of the Power Horse World Team Cup.

• Leading off the Blue Group on Centre Court I is Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic against German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has won two of the previous three meetings in their head-to-head series. This will also be the third time in the past four years (except 2010) the two are meeting here at the Rochusclub. In 2009, Tipsarevic won in the final 62 64 and last year Kohlschreiber won a round robin meeting 64 76(5). Both players are 2-0 in round robin play this week. Tipsarevic is 24-11 on the season (9-5 on clay) and he comes in with a 6-2 career mark in Duesseldorf. Kohlschreiber has a 21-10 match record (7-3 on clay) and 13-9 lifetime at the Rochusclub. The German is 1-5 vs. Top 10 opponents this season and he defeated No. 10 Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals in Auckland in January.

• In the next match on in Red Group play, Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic looks for his second win in as many meetings against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. Stepanek won in straight sets in the second round of the 2009 US Open. Stepanek is 12-12 on the season (3-5 on clay) and he enters with a 5-4 career mark at the World Team Cup event. Mayer is making his debut here and this week has posted a pair of wins, over American Ryan Harrison and Tatsuma Ito of Japan. He is 6-7 on the year (5-4 on clay).

• After the singles matches, the doubles rubber will be played with Serbia and Germany squaring off followed by the Czech Republic and Argentina.

• On Centre Court 2, Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia meet for the second time. Bogomolov won in Toronto in August 2004. Both players are winless on clay this season. Following the singles match, they will meet in doubles. On Thursday, Ivan Dodig gave Croatia a 1-0 lead with his win over Igor Kunitsyn.


Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) Kohlschreiber Leads 2-1
09 World Team Chp. (Duesseldorf) Clay F Janko Tipsarevic 6-2 6-4
10 ATP Masters 1000 Toronto Hard R64 Philipp Kohlschreiber 2-2 ret.
11 World Team Chp. (Duesseldorf) Clay RR Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 7-6(5)

Tipsarevic FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
F: Chennai (l Raonic); SF(2): Marseille (l Llodra); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (l Federer); QF(3): Dubai (l Djokovic); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l Murray); Barcelona (l Nadal)
YTD W-L: 24-11 (9-5 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: June 22, 1984
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 8

- Third Tournament Appearance (2009, ’11-12) in Duesseldorf (6-2 record)

Kohlschreiber FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Munich (d Cilic); SF: Auckland (l Rochus); Montpellier (l Berdych); QF: Delray Beach (l Sela)
YTD W-L: 21-10 (7-3 on clay)
YTD Titles: 1
Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: October 16, 1983
South African Airways Ranking: 24

- Seventh Tournament Appearance (2002, ’06-11) in Duesseldorf (13-9 record)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs Leonardo Mayer (ARG) Stepanek Leads 1-0
09 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard R64 Radek Stepanek 7-6(5) 6-3 6-4
Other meeting:
10 Sunrise CH (USA) Hard R16 Leonardo Mayer 3-6 6-3 6-3

Stepanek FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
SF: Memphis (l Melzer); QF: Brisbane (l Dolgopolov)
YTD W-L: 12-12 (3-5 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 5
Date of Birth: November 27, 1978
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 26

- Third Tournament Appearance (2003-04) in Duesseldorf (5-4 record)

Mayer FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Sao Paulo (l Bellucci)
YTD W-L: 6-7 (5-4 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: May 15, 1987
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 68

- First Tournament Appearance in Duesseldorf (2-0 record)


Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO) Bogomolov Leads 1-0
04 ATP Masters 1000 Toronto (Canada) Hard R64 Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-4 7-6(6)
Other meeting:
04 Calabasas CH (USA) Hard F Ivo Karlovic 7-6(3)  6-3

Bogomolov Jr. FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Sydney (l Benneteau)
YTD W-L: 7-15 (0-5 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: April 23, 1983
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 46
- First Tournament Appearance in Duesseldorf (0-2 record)

Karlovic FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Zagreb (l Youzhny)
YTD W-L: 8-10 (0-4 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: February 28, 1979
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 58

- Second Tournament Appearance (2006) in Duesseldorf (1-2 record)

• World No. 7 Tomas Berdych gave Czech Republic a 1-0 lead in its final Red Group tie against Argentina at the Power Horse World Team Cup in Dusseldorf on Thursday. "It was a tough one today, but finally had a good end," Berdych told "He made me fight until the end. It was a pretty good test for me."
• Berdych improved to 31-8 on the season with a 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3 victory over this year's VTR Open finalist Carlos Berlocq of Argentina. Berdych is making his sixth tournament appearance at the Rochusclub (2005-08, '10, '12), where he has a 15-4 record. The winner of this tie will advance to Saturday's final. "We are the No. 1 seed here, so we're looking forward to going far in the draw," said Berdych. "It's a good thing that I'm able to keep winning. Hopefully Radek will be strong tomorrow and we will make the final."
• In the other Red Group tie, United States took a 1-0 lead over Japan after Ryan Harrison hit eight aces past Tatsuma Ito for a 6-2, 7-6(5) win in 85 minutes. Harrison partnered with James Blake to defeat Ito and Bumpei Sato 4-6, 6-0, 10-3 to give the Americans their first team victory this week. Go Soeda later edged Andy Roddick 7-5, 7-6(4) to put Japan on the board in a dead rubber.
• Serbia got off to a fine start against host nation Germany in a battle of undefeated teams in the Blue Group. Former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki avenged his loss to Florian Mayer at the championship last year by hitting 12 aces in a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory in one hour and 34 minutes. "During the first set, I was by far the better player," said Mayer. "It’s my own fault, because I didn’t convert the three set points. That’s the way things go in tennis."
• In the other Blue Group tie, Croatia's Ivan Dodig recorded his second straight win over Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 7-6(0), 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes. The World No. 75 hit 10 aces for his ninth match win of the season (9-15 overall).

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