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Nalbandian storms into quarterfinals

DAVID Nalbandian advanced to the Barcelona Open quarterfinals by beating Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-3, 6-4 yesterday.

The seventh-seeded Argentine broke Almagro four times and won 25 of his 32 first service points on the clay surface.

Nalbandian could next face Rafael Nadal, who is going for his fifth straight Godo title. The top-ranked Spaniard was to play 61st-ranked Christophe Rochus of Belgium later yesterday.

Spanish players David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo both rallied to advance.

Ferrer beat Potito Starace of Italy 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 while Robredo defeated Igor Andreev of Russia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Robredo, the last man to win at Barcelona since Nadal's run, broke Andreev three times and saved all five break points he faced.

Ninth-seeded Radek Stepanek also reached the quarterfinals, beating Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

On Wednesday, Nadal beat Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

Following a first-round bye, top-ranked Nadal broke Gil twice in each set but the qualifier made him work hard.

"I have to play better than I did today," Nadal said. "I have to play well. Otherwise, it is going to be complicated."

Nadal has lost only one of his 23 matches at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. He's also on a 22-match winning streak on clay.

No. 2-seeded Fernando Verdasco beat qualifier Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 7-5, 6-3; No. 6 Tommy Robredo downed Gaston Gaudio of Argentina 7-6 (6), 6-1; No. 10 Nicolas Almagro took more than two hours to overcome Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3, and No. 16 Feliciano Lopez also rallied past countryman Santiago Ventura 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Gaudio, a former Barcelona champion entered with a wildcard, fought back from two breaks and 2-5 down to force a tiebreaker but he eventually faded against Robredo.

Also on Wednesday, third-seeded Nikolay Davydenko beat Arnaud Clement of France 7-6 (2), 6-2, seventh-seeded David Nalbandian topped Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 7-5, 6-4, and eighth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka dispatched Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 7-5, 6-1.


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