Gonzalez, Monaco Lead Way at Vina Del Mar Friday

Posted on February 1, 2008

The quarterfinals of the Movistar Open in Vina Del Mar, Chile take place Friday with three seeds leading the way No. 1 and former two-time winner Fernando Gonzalez, No. 3 Juan Monaco and No. 7 Jose Acasuso, who won the title here two years ago. All three along with unseeded Spaniard Santiago Ventura have won at least one ATP title in their career. The other four quarterfinalists are looking to reach their first ATP final.

In the opening match on Central Court, Santiago Ventura meets Italian Fabio Fognini for the first time in an ATP tournament although the Spaniard won 6-0, 6-2 last year in the quarterfinals at the Montevideo Challenger. Ventura finished in the Top 100 for the first time in his career at No. 89, highlighted by an ATP semifinal showing in Valencia (l. to Almagro). He won his lone ATP title in Casablanca (d. Hrbaty) in 2004 as a qualifier. Fognini, at age 20, is the youngest player remaining in the draw and he is playing in his first ATP quarterfinal.

In the next match, Argentine Juan Pablo Brzezicki takes on countryman and No. 3 seed Juan Monaco for the first time. The 25-year-old Brzezicki is appearing in his first career ATP quarterfinal and he is one of three players (Gonzalez, Acasuso) yet to drop a set. Monaco is the highest-ranked player left at No. 21 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. The 23-year-old Buenos Aires resident saved three match points in his second round win on Wednesday and last year he captured a career-high three ATP titles while compiling a personal-best 28-8 record on clay. His 28 wins was second-most on the ATP circuit behind Rafael Nadals 31.

In the third match, first-time ATP quarterfinalist Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay plays No. 7 seed Jose Acasuso of Argentine for the first time. The 22-year-old Cuevas posted the biggest win of his young career on Thursday by defeating No. 4 seed and No. 29th-ranked Fernando Verdasco. Acasuso, who won his third career ATP title here two years ago, has only dropped 10 games in his first two wins this week. The 25-year-old from Buenos Aires has a 13-4 career record in Vina del Mar and this will be his fourth quarterfinal in six appearances.

In the final evening match, top seed and two-time tournament winner Fernando Gonzalez takes a 22-5 career mark into the quarterfinals against Argentine Carlos Berlocq in a first-time meeting. The 27-year-old Santiago native captured the Vina title in 2002 (d. Lapentti) and 2004 (d. Kuerten) and was runner-up in 2005 (l. to Gaudio). He dropped out of the Top 10 after the Austrailan Open, falling to No. 24 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. A Chilean has reached the Vina final for six straight years but Gonzalez is the only player from his country to capture the title. Marcelo Rios was runner-up four times (1995-97, 03) and Massu was a finalist the last two years. Berlocq is appearing in the Vina del Mar quarterfinals for the second straight year (l. to Vassallo Arguello). The 24-year-old Buenos Aires native finished a year-end best No. 74 with an 11-15 match record in 2007. His best ATP result was the semifinals in Bucharest (l. to eventual champ Simon). (ATP Digital Services)