Spain’s Nicolas Almagro broke new ground in his career on Thursday when he defeated Russian Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(2), 6-3 in the third round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. In reaching the quarter-finals of the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament, the 25-year-old Almagro will crack the Top 10 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on Monday.
Murcia native Almagro will be the 17th different Spaniard to reach the Top 10 in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since August 23, 1973). He will join No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 David Ferrer as the third Spaniard amongst the game’s current crop of elite players.
"I knew that today's match could have a special reward," said Almagro. "It was the third time I had a chance to get to the Top 10, after Acapulco and Monte-Carlo first. It's an incredible feeling. There’s no better place to achieve it than in my home club in front of my own people and my family and all the home support. It’s a great reward for myself and the work of my whole team.”
Almagro can attribute much of his success in 2011 to his achievements on clay. The right-hander dominated the Latin American “Golden Swing” in February, winning back-to-back titles in Costa do Sauipe (d. Dolgopolov) and Buenos Aires (d. Chela) before finishing runner-up in Acapulco (l. to Ferrer).
The eighth seed, who reached the Barcelona semi-finals in 2006 (l. to Nadal), will next face former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, who battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third set to defeat Italian qualifier Simone Vagnozzi 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes. Ferrero and Almagro clashed in the Barcelona quarter-finals five years ago, with Almagro prevailing in straight sets. They have split their career meetings 2-2.
The 31-year-old Ferrero is playing his first tournament since the 2010 US Open after undergoing right wrist and left knee surgery on 4 October. The Villena resident has enjoyed much success in Barcelona in previous visits, winning the title in 2001 (d. Moya) and reaching the final in 2000 (l. to Safin) and 2005 (l. to Nadal).
A fifth Spaniard advanced to the quarter-finals on Friday as Feliciano Lopez defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(5). The left-hander broke serve twice to prevail in one hour and 45 minutes and reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season.
For a place in the semi-finals Lopez will face Ivan Dodig, after the Croatian held on to see off Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 29 minutes. Dodig had led 5-1 in the third set and fended off break point when serving in the ninth game before closing out victory. The 26 year old is through to his third ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season and went on to win his maiden title in Zagreb (d. Berrer).