Would have preferred to play and qualify for last-8: Almagro

Chennai: Spanish star Nicholas Almagro is a touch worried that he would be short of match practice before his quarterfinal encounter in ATP Chennai Open after his second round opponent Steve Darcis of Belgium withdrew due to shoulder injury.

Talking to the media, Almagro said,"I am very happy that I am in the quarterfinals for the first time in a season opener. But I would have preferred to play and qualify for the quarterfinal. I was talking to Steve, a few hours earlier but I would preferred to play. I was practicing for more than an hour with the hope of playing in a match. But that did not happen."

Almagro feels that the first match being a last-eight tie is a bit of "handicap."

"Now, it will be much first match tomorrow in the quarterfinal and it is a bit handicap. If I play with confidence, may be I can win. If not take the flight at 2 O’clock," the world No 10 stated.

On his aspirations for 2012, Almagro replied,"The year 2011 was amazing. 2012 will be a very difficult year because I have many points to defend at the beginning of the season in South America. I am working hard and happy with my game now. I think this is very important."

Almagro feels that he needs to play better on Hard Courts in order to have a good 2012.

"If I can play my tennis well on Hard Court, may be I will have good result but still I wanted to play my best tennis in 2012. I have done well on clay and won many titles. May be I can do better in the Masters-1000. May be, I can finish the year on top ten again."

As of now, Almagro wants to set short-term goals – like three weeks of good tennis leading up to the Australian Open.

"I am looking to play my best tennis here in Chennai, which is the first tournament of the season. I do not want to think more than these three weeks since we have a Grand Slam in two weeks time. From Chennai, I move to Auckland and then to Melbourne for the Australian Open."

Almagro said that coming to Chennai has been an enriching experience and the humidity here would help him cope up with weather during Australian Open.

"I was practicing in -3 degrees in Europe and here it is 35 degrees and it is close to the Australian weather. That is the reason, I chose to play here before the Australian Open."

Almagro termed Milos Raonic as one of the most improved players in recent times.

"Milos is the most improving youngster on the tour. It will be a very good experience if I have a chance of meeting him in the semi-final. I want to play my best tennis because he serves well. He is more of a hard-court player and I am a clay-court specialist. But it will be an exciting battle if we are pitted against each other," Almagro concluded.


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