2011 Movistar Open: Horacio Zeballos vs. Potito Starace – Match Preview

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2011 Movistar Open: Horacio Zeballos vs. Potito Starace – Match Preview
Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos stunned fans and crowds alike as he sidelined top seed David Nalbandian in their second round match on Thursday at the 2011 Movistar Open to secure a spot for himself in the final eight. Zeballos will play Potito Starace from Italy in the quarterfinal match on Friday.
In its 18th edition, the first red clay event of the season enters its fifth day on Friday.
Zeballos is playing in his first tour level event of the year. The 25-year-old kicked off the year by playing at two Challenger tournaments, though he failed to make it past the first two rounds in both events. Zeballos was ousted by qualifier Rafael Camilo in the Sao Paulo Challenger tournament and met with similar fate in the Bucaramanga Challenger, as he fell to Reda Al Armani.
In his second straight year at the event, Zeballos currently sports a 2-1 career win-loss mark for the event. Seeded fifth in 2010, Zeballos was forced to exit the event after his first round clash against Lukasz Kubot. However, in 2011, the unseeded Argentine opened his account by defeating Brazilian qualifier, Ricardo Hocevar. Zeballos dismissed the Brazilian in a straight, yet not so simple, sets victory, registering a 7-6(2), 6-4 win for the match. Nonetheless, his greatest win was yet to be revealed.
After meeting compatriot David Nalbandian for the first time on tour, Zeballos was able to do away with him in straight sets despite being lower-ranked. He clinched a 6-2 victory in the first set and moved into the final eight with a close 7-5 win in the second and in effect the final set.
Meanwhile, Starace is playing his second ATP tour event of the year, having started his run at the 2011 Medibank International in Sydney. Unseeded at the event, Starace enjoyed a three-set win over Julien Benneteau and Lukasz Kubot before losing to Florian Mayer in the quarterfinals. Starace’s Australian Open run also ended in the first round where he crumbled before fourth seed, Robin Soderling.
Appearing for the third time at the event, Starace had never been able to make it past the second round. Thus, it came as much pleasure to the Italian when he made it into the quarterfinals this week. Starace has been able to improve his win-loss mark at the event to a level 3-3.
Starace faced local wildcard entrant, Paul Capdeville in his opening clash at the event this week. One of the four players to cause the local’s exit in the event, Starace bounced back from being one set down to secure a three-set win over the local. The scoreline for the match was 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Starace’s next opponent in the event was Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Already enjoying a lead in the head-to-head over Andujar, Starace sailed into the final eight doing away with the Spaniard in straight sets with a loss of only five games.
Prediction: Given that this is their first meeting on the tour, neither player enjoys the statistical advantage. However, should Zeballos perform as well as he did against Nalbandian, and the same luck follows through in the quarterfinals, Zeballos shall have no problem ousting Starace. Moreover, a comparative higher crowd support also plays in Zeballos’ favour.



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