Almagro the Favorite in Buenos Aires

Posted on February 24, 2007

Fourth seed Nicolas Almagro, home country hopefuls Juan Monaco and Diego Hartfield and Italyís Alessio Di Mauro play their semifinal matches Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Almagro of Spain takes on Monaco for the first time in ATP competition. In the quarterfinals, Almagro beat No. 7 seed Juan Ignacio Chela, while Monaco defeated Luis Horna.

Almagro, 21, has pushed his 2007 record above .500, to 6-4, with his three wins here this week. He is playing in his first semifinal since last September in Palermo (l. to Volandri). He was 1-3 in semifinals last year, capturing his first ATP title at Valencia (d. Safin). Thatís his only ATP final. His best result this year was a quarterfinal finish at Costa do Sauipe last week (l. to Saretta).

Almagro has a career mark of 5-1 here, reaching the quarterfinals in his 2005 debut (l. to Acasuso).

Monaco, 22, has lifted his 2007 record to 7-3 this week. He is playing in his first semifinal since last July at Stuttgart (l. to Acasuso). He was 0-2 in semifinals last year. He has reached one ATP final, finishing as runner-up at Casablanca in 2005 (l. to Puerta). His best results this year were quarterfinal finishes at Costa do Sauipe last week (l. to Chela) and Auckland last month (l. to Calleri).

Monaco has a career mark of 6-3 here, with his best prior showing a quarterfinal loss in his 2004 debut (to Coria).

In the other semifinal, Hartfield battles Di Mauro for the first time in ATP competition. In the quarterfinals, Hartfield beat Nicolas Devilder, while Di Mauro defeated Albert Montanes. Di Mauro is the only semifinalist who lost a match in round-robin play (to Berlocq). Both players made it through the elimination round this week.

Hartfield, 26, earned his first four ATP wins of the year at this event, pushing his 2007 ATP record above .500 to 4-3 and his career ATP mark to 6-5. He is playing in the first ATP semifinal of his career and is making his debut in Buenos Aires.

Di Mauro, 29, also broke into the win column this week, boosting his 2007 ATP record to 3-5. His career ATP mark is 14-30. He is playing in the first semifinal of his ATP career. He reached his first quarterfinal last February at Acapulco (l. to Chela). Di Mauro is playing in Buenos Aires for the first time. (ATP)

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