2012 Barcelona Open Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
ATP World Tour 500
April 23-29, 2012
Prize Money: € 1,627,500
The ATP World Tour 500 series tournament in Barcelona on clay kicks off today as top seed Rafael Nadal, fresh off a record-setting 8th straight victory in Monte Carlo, tries for his 7th title in Barcelona on home soil. While the Barcelona field was slightly weakened by the withdraw of 4 seed Tomas Berdych, a quarterfinalist in Monte Carlo (shoulder injury), who joins the 2 other players who withdrew from the main draw and were replaced by lucky losers, Thomaz Bellucci and Juan Ignacio Chela, but it is still a field that features 4 top 10 players and stellar group of Spaniards playing on home soil.
Top 8 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Rafael Nadal
2: Andy Murray
3: David Ferrer
5: Janko Tipsarevic
6: Nicolas Almagro
8: Kei Nishikori
9: Fernando Verdasco (replaces Berdych)
1st round matchups to watch:
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Olivier Rochus
The Spaniard Garcia-Lopez, who pulled off an upset of Andy Murray earlier in the year takes on the always fun to watch Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
Malek Jaziri vs. Kevin Anderson
Jaziri, the most successful North African tennis player since Younes El Aynaoui and the first Tunisian player to ever reach the top 100, takes on lanky South African Kevin Anderson trying to pull off an upset. Jaziri also gave Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a real battle in Dubai a few months back.
Paolo Lorenzi vs. Flavio Cipolla
Lorenzi, who reached the final of the challenger in Sarasota this week losing to Sam Querrey, takes on his countryman Flavio Cipolla in an Italian battle. Both players are streaky and have produced some good wins in the past.
Bernard Tomic vs. Ernest Gulbis
In a battle of present vs. past, rising young gun Tomic takes on the consistently inconsistent Gulbis in a battle of young talent that could come down to the mental game more than anything.
Top seed Nadal is a heavy favorite in a seed line that could feature match ups with ATP Casablanca champ Pablo Andujar and Janko Tipsarevic, among others. Rafa will start with either Garcia-Lopez or the tricky Rochus in the 2nd round before a possible 3rd round match-up with Andujar.
Tipsarevic will get either Rui Machado of Portugal or Victor Hanescu of Romania in the 2nd round before a possible 3rd round match up with 12 seed Marcel Granollers. The winner will likely face Nadal in the quarters.
Fernando Verdasco, a former champion and the 9 seed who replaced Tomas Berdych and receives a 1st round bye will have to deal with either Andrey Golubev or Steve Darcis before a possible 3rd round match up with Kevin Anderson.
Albert Ramos, the ATP Casablanca runner-up, faces German Andreas Beck in the 1st round before a possible match-up with Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic or Benoit Paire of France. If he advances, he could get 8 seed Kei Nishikori in the 3rd round.
Nishikori will play either Mikhail Kukushkin, who played well in Monte Carlo last week. or Daniel Gimeno-Traver, another of the numerous Spaniards in the draw before a possible match-up with Ramos. The winner likely advances to face Verdasco in the quarters.
2 seed Andy Murray will serve it up again on clay facing either Sergiy Stakhovsky or Evgeny Donskoy, a lucky loser in the 2nd round before a possible match-up with Denis Istomin, Colombian clay courter Santiago Giraldo, qualifier Sergei Bubka of Ukraine or Dutchman Robin Haase in a wide open part of the draw if he makes it through that he could face Nicolas Almagro in the quarters.
Almagro, who lost to Stanislas Wawrinka last week in Monte Carlo, starts off with either Stephane Robert or Edouard Roger-Vasselin before a possible match-up with the recently inconsistent Milos Raonic who has struggled on clay. Igor Andreev of Russia, who has one of the best forehands in the game, is also in this seed line.
3 seed David Ferrer will face either wild card Filip Krajinovic of Serbia or wild card Inigo Cervantes before a possible match-up with either Tomic or another Spaniard who is at home on clay Albert Montanes.
The “forgotten” 7th seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who has had some good but somewhat unheralded results this year, especially on clay, will take on either Cipolla or Lorenzi in the 2nd round before a possible match-up with 10 seed Radek Stepanek or Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. That would probably be followed by a match-up with Ferrer in the quarters that should be fun to watch.
Dark Horse: Albert Ramos
The Casablanca finalist who recently broke into the top 50 plays his best on clay has a tough but manageable draw of Andreas Beck, Paire or Rosol and then a likely rematch with the man who beat him last week in Monte Carlo, Kei Nishikori. He would then face Verdasco or other in the quarters. If he can get through that, he likely has to deal with Rafa but he has at least a punchers chance in all his matches.
Predictions: (it could be an all-Spanish semi-finals and final showdown)
Nadal d. Verdasco
Ferrer d. Almagro
Nadal d. Ferrer
On one other note, the USTA Pro Circuit is in Savannah this week.