Red-Hot Almagro Nixes Nalbandian’s Bid for Back-to-Back Titles

by John on March 3, 2008

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Nicolas Almagro stunned top-seeded David Nalbandian 6-1, 7-6 Saturday night in the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel tournament in Acapulco. The title was the Spaniard’s second in his last three tournaments and his fourth ATP championship overall. Almagro, the No. 6 seed, improved to an ATP-best 15-3 for the year and his two titles this season tie him with Britain’s Andy Murray and France’s Michael Llodra for tops on the tour. Nalbandian had been on a tear himself prior to the loss, winning 10 straight matches and capturing his eighth career ATP title in Buenos Aires last week. By reaching the final in Mexico, Nalbandian improved his ATP ranking one notch to No. 7 in the world and now has a 12-2 record in 2008, his only previous loss coming in the third round of the Australian Open against Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Argentine had breezed through his first four matches in Acapulco in straight sets, but ran into a buzz saw in Almagro, the hottest player on the now-concluded Latin American clay-court swing. Almagro, winner of the title in Costo do Sauipe, Brazil, two weeks ago, completely outgunned Nalbandian at the outset, serving big and conceding only 13 points in the opening set. The second set proceeded on serve to the tiebreaker, but then Nalbandian went on a mental walkabout and won only one point the rest of the way. “Nico played a great match, he deserved to win,” Nalbandian said. The two had played once before with the Argentine winning in the first round at the Paris Masters last fall. Next up on the circuit are five weeks of all hard-court tournaments, Dubai and Las Vegas this week followed by Masters Series championships in Indian Wells and Miami.

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