Top Seed Ramos-Vinolas Cruises In Sao Paulo Opener
A year ago this week, Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas was on the doorstep of a second ATP World Tour title. The left-hander led by a set in the final of the Brasil Open before falling just short against Pablo Cuevas.
But the 30-year-old is back in Sao Paulo and into another championship charge, beating Brazilian qualifier Guilherme Clezar 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to advance to his second quarter-final of the season.
“I’m happy. I’ve been working a lot on my serve and I didn’t have the results yet,” said Ramos-Vinolas, who hit 14 aces and lost just three points on his first serve. "So today I think is the first day in the season that I can say that I served really good.”
Ramos-Vinolas, who is No. 22 in the ATP Rankings, advanced to his sixth ATP World Tour final (1-5) earlier this year at the Ecuador Open in Quito, where he lost to first-time trophy winner Roberto Carballes Baena. The 30-year-old will next face Chilean Nicolas Jarry, who ousted sixth seed Guido Pella 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2).
“I expect a difficult match with no rhythm like last week,” said Ramos-Vinolas, who lost their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last week in Rio de Janeiro. "I hope to be more ready than last week. I know how he plays a little bit more and I will try to fight every single ball."
The 22-year-old Jarry has certainly made his mark on the ATP World Tour in 2018. Since reaching his first tour-level quarter-final in Quito earlier this month, Jarry has also made the semi-finals in Rio (l. to Schwartzman) and now the final eight in Sao Paulo.
"It’s amazing. It’s what everybody wants to do, not lose in first rounds,” Jarry said. “[You] win some matches, you gain a lot of confidence and now that I started this year playing at the ATP [World Tour] level and I’ve done these great results, I’m very happy and I’ll try to keep on going in this tournament as far as possible."
Gael Monfils won the final five games of his match against Horacio Zeballos in Rio last week, saving a match point to get by the left-hander. But the Argentine would have no such hiccup this time against the Frenchman.
Zeballos avenged that defeat in another thriller, outlasting the fourth-seeded Monfils in Sao Paulo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It is the 32-year-old's first tour-level quarter-final since last year in Munich (l. to Pella), and he will look to reach his first semi-final since 2017 Barcelona (l. to Nadal) when he faces Brazilian No. 1 Rogerio Dutra Silva, who advanced to his third ATP World Tour quarter-final with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Argentina's Nicolas Kicker. Dutra Silva entered the Brasil Open with an 0-5 record on the year.
For Monfils, It appeared that the match was a case of déjà vu as he held three break points in the first game of the third set. But Zeballos' constant aggression — the left-hander kept the favoured Frenchman on the run, deep in the court — eventually paid off, as he broke at 3-2 before holding the rest of the way, firing up the crowd with his performance. Zeballos stared at 0/40 on his serve at 4-2, but navigated his way out of trouble to triumph.
"That was huge. I think in one moment it came to my mind, the match that I had last week, that I was also very close," Zeballos said of the 0/40 deficit. "I said 'Not this time. Not this time'. I tried to win, but I'm really [happy that I] showed this kind of match against a great player like Monfils."
Did You Know?
Jarry had won five tour-level matches prior to 2018. He now has 10 victories this season alone.