Defending champ Almargo advances

Updated: February 11, 2009, 9:17 PM ET
Associated Press

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- Defending champion Nicolas Almagro reached the Brazil Open quarterfinals for a fourth straight year by beating Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday.

Almagro led four Spaniards into the last eight, including second-seeded Tommy Robredo.

Top-seeded Almagro lost his serve twice but improved to 4-0 against Vassallo Arguello.

"I played better [than in the first round], but I still have to improve a lot," Almagro said. "I'm not at the level I was in 2008."

In the quarterfinals he'll meet Frederico Gil of Portugal, who upset fifth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

Robredo eased past Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal with countryman Alberto Martin, who ousted seventh-seeded Nicolas Devilder of France 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero -- the world's top-ranked player in 2003 but now 101st -- continued his nice run by breezing past Brian Dabul of Argentina 6-1, 6-2. Ferrero's 11th and last title was in 2003.

Fourth-seeded Jose Acasuso of Argentina, runner-up in Chile last week, defeated Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-3, 6-2 and will meet compatriot and sixth seed Eduardo Schwank, who earned a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6) win over Portuguese qualifier Rui Machado.

Thomaz Bellucci beat Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to be the only Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals -- his first at home -- where he'll meet Ferrero.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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