ATP Japan Open SFs: Juan Martin del Potro vs Nicolas Almagro Preview

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Top seed Juan Martin del Potro (Player Bio) and Nicolas Almagro (Player Bio) will meet for the first time on the professional tour to compete for a place in the Japan Open (Tokyo) finals. Both men picked up three-set wins in their quarter-final matches as Del Potro beat Alexander Dolgopolov and Almagro edged defending champion Kei Nishikori. The Del Potro vs Almagro Head to Head stands at 0-0.

After dropping the first set to the Ukrainian competitor, the Argentine regrouped and captured the following two sets to reach his seventh semi-final of the season. The match lasted two hours and seven minutes and featured a hellacious battle where the 25-year-old had to weather the storm from Dolgopolov, who hit 11 aces and won 39/54 (73%) points on first serve. It was not the best performance overall from the top seed as he scored only  53% on his first serve and conceived three break points during the match before he eventually secured several crucial shots in the second and third sets. The 2008 runner-up will be after his first title in Tokyo and his third overall this season. He is currently placed sixth in the race to the Barclays World Tour Final.

Almagro ended defending champion and hometown favourite Kei Nishikori’s bid at a second consecutive title in Tokyo with a impressive three set win last night. The Spaniard won the first set with marvelous shot making and followed up by winning the last three games of the third set to finish the match 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 and earn his 35th win of the season. The fifth seed is currently ranked at No. 19 in the ATP rankings and is yet to win a title this year even though he had reached two finals. He will be determined to overcome the Argentine in  their first meeting and continue his impressive winning streak in Tokyo. He is currently at No. 14 in the Race to London.

Their semi-final contest marks the first ever ATP meeting between these two competitors. The two once met in a San Diego challengers event in 2006, where Almagro defeated Juan Martin 7-5, 6-3 yet that match is unlikely to factor in to either mans performance on Saturday. Del Potro holds a 29-8 record on hard courts this season is currently ranked 12 places ahead of Almagro. The Spaniard holds a 10-7 record on hard courts this season and is 1-4 against top 10 competition this season. This does not bode well for his chances against the big serving Argentine tomorrow afternoon, yet considering his performance this week, we could be in for a surprising result in Tokyo.

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