Rafael Nadal Heads to Spain as Barcelona Open Top Seed
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Barcelona Open 500 is the ATP’s marquee clay event this week as Rafael Nadal leads the field, joined by Novak Djokovic and other stars of the game. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Top seed Rafael Nadal will look to extend his winning streak on clay against Andreas Haider-Maurer or Roberto Carballes Baena, he should then get a Monte Carlo final rematch against Kei Nishikori. Nishikori needs to get past Yuichi Sugita or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to get there. At that third round stage he’s unlikely to prevail against Rafa.
Novak Djokovic won a pair of matches in Monte Carlo and looks focused enough to beat Martin Klizan or Federico Delbonis, then his countryman Dusan Lajovic, or a Spaniard, Pedro Martinez or Feliciano Lopez. I’ll take Djokovic over Lopez in the third round to setup a quarterfinal against Nadal.Embed from Getty Images
David Goffin and Karen Khachanov should be on a collision course in the third section. Goffin needs to beat Mikhail Kukushkin or Marcel Granollers, while Khachanov will take on Leonardo Mayer or Mischa Zverev. Seemingly over his eye injury, Goffin is the favorite to reach the quarters.Embed from Getty Images
Hyeon Chung begins his clay season against Bjorn Fratangelo or Alexey Vatutin, he should reach the third round and take on Roberto Bautista Agut. RBA has Tommy Robredo/Ivo Karlovic prior to Chung, I have RBA taking this section.
A semifinalist in Monte Carlo, Grigor Dimitrov should edge Gilles Simon (or Ilya Ivashka) before running into Andrey Rublev, or Houston finalist Tennys Sandgren/Malek Jaziri. Rublev isn’t an easy win for Dimitrov but he should reach the quarters.Embed from Getty Images
Home hero Pablo Carreno Busta will be favored against Nicolas Jarry/Benoit Paire before most likely facing Pablo Cuevas in round 3. Cuevas must get past Ricardo Ojeda and Adrian Mannarino. Either clay court talent could win that match, but I’ll back PCB at home.
Dominic Thiem is playing well and should ease past Joao Sousa/Jaume Munar, then defeat home favorite Fernando Verdasco in round 3. Verdasco faces Guido Pella/Peter Gojowczyk first up.
Diego Schwartzman and Albert Ramos are co-favorites in the final section. Stefanos Tsitsipas would love to spoil the party though. A dark horse for the week, the Greek #1 opens with Corentin Moutet, with Schwartzman to follow. Ramos will take on Rogerio Dutra Silva or Jared Donaldson in round 2. I’ll back Schwartzman to win the section over Ramos.
PredictionsEmbed from Getty Images
Nadal d. Djokovic
Goffin d. Bautista Agut
Thiem d. Schwartzman
Dimitrov d. Carreno Busta
if anyone is going to beat Rafa on clay it would be Djokovic. I don’t think he’s reached that level post injury though and thus Nadal is the favorite. The other quarterfinals shouldn’t be close, but don’t sleep on Schwartzman or RBA at home.
Nadal d. Goffin
Thiem d. Dimitrov
Nadal and Thiem should face off in the final, with Nadal walking away a winner, the same outcome as 2017.Embed from Getty Images
Nadal d. Thiem