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Fognini, Youzhny Surge Into Quarters

Stuttgart, Germany

Fognini© Marcus Lang/X-tremePicturesFabio Fognini is the defending champion in Stuttgart.

Top seed Fabio Fognini opened his MercedesCup title defence on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-4 second-round win over Andrey Golubev. The Italian won 75 per cent of his first service points and broke Golubev once in each set for victory in 79 minutes.

Fognini made his breakthrough 12 months ago at this ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament in Stuttgart, winning his first title with victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber. It was the first of three successive finals the Italian would contest in as many weeks and in March, Fognini pushed on to reach a career-high World No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

"It's special playing here," said Fognini. "I won my first title here and it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life. I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals. I was feeling good on court."

For a place in the semi-finals, Fognini will challenge seventh seed Santiago Giraldo, who edged qualifier Philipp Davydenko 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 in just under two hours. Now working with Fernando Gonzalez as his coach, Giraldo is bidding to win his first ATP World Tour crown.

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Second seed Mikhail Youzhny powered into the quarter-finals as he dismissed Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-1 in just 69 minutes. The Russian converted five of his seven break points against Mayer, who was coming off a fourth-round showing at Wimbledon (l. to Dimitrov).

"It was tough conditions, very cold," said Youzhny. "The first match is always tough in any tournament. I'm happy because it was good for me today. Maybe he didn't play his best tennis and that helped me a lot."

The 32-year-old Youzhny is bidding to win this ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament for the second time, having triumphed on his 2002 debut (d. Canas). In his second quarter-final of the season, he will face eighth seed Federico Delbonis, who came from a set down to beat Benjamin Becker 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4.

Fifth seed Kohlschreiber pulled double duty Thursday, but could not reach the quarter-finals. The German won his first-round match against Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-3, but was later beaten by Lukas Rosol 7-5, 7-6(5). 

Next up for Rosol is fourth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who battled past countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 47 minutes. The left-hander is coming off a very successful grass-court swing, where he compiled a 12-2 mark, and is bidding to win his second ATP World Tour title of the season in Stuttgart.

"It's always nice to win, especially playing my first match back on clay after one month on grass," said Lopez. "So I have to be pleased to go through and be in the quarter-finals."

Two more Spaniards also reached the last eight. Third seed Roberto Bautista Agut finished strongly to beat Irish lucky loser Louk Sorensen 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 and sixth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez edged Swiss qualifier Yann Marti 7-6(13), 7-5. 

Top Seeds Fall In Opener
Top seeds Colin Fleming and Mariusz Fyrstenberg fell in the first round of the MercedesCup on Thursday to Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Austrian Philipp Oswald 6-2, 6-2. This was the first team outing for Fleming and Fyrstenberg.

Third seeds Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Rosol also reached the second round by claiming the Match Tie-break 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 against Argentines Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer. Another Argentine, Juan Monaco, lost with partner Fabio Fognini to Germans Peter Gojowczyk and Dominik Meffert 6-3, 6-1.

The Brazilian-Indian pairing of Marcelo Demoliner and Purav Raja, along with German wild cards Michael Berrer and Alexander Zverev and the partnership of Mateusz Kowalczyk and Artem Sitak, all secured second-round berths.

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