Almagro, Nalbandian reach quarters in Brazil

Top seed and defending champion Nicolas Almagro secured a berth in the quarterfinals at the $475,300 Brasil Open.

Almagro fought his way past Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 at this clay-court event. The Spanish Almagro, who also won this event in 2008, captured his second Brasil Open title last year by besting Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the final in Costa do Sauipe.

Up next for the world No. 11 Almagro will be fifth-seeded Argentine Carlos Berlocq, a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 come-from-behind winner against Italian Potito Starace on Thursday.

Second-seeded Gilles Simon would not enjoy such a fortuitous fate. The Frenchman was bested by Argentine former world No. 3 David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-2. Nalbandian faced five break points but saved each of them, while converting four of seven opportunities offered by Simon.

Third-seeded Fernando Verdasco fought off wild card and fellow Spaniard Javier Marti 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 7-5. The left-handed Verdasco will face another compatriot on Friday, Albert Ramos.

An eighth-seeded Ramos needed a pair of tiebreaks to get past Russian qualifier Igor Andreev 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), while Italian Filippo Volandri edged out Spanish qualifier Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Argentine Leonardo Mayer rounded out Thursday's action, defeating Jeremy Chardy 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

The 2012 Brasil Open champion will collect $85,800.