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.
Other than league play, the greatest benefit of being a USTA member is the ability to purchase US Open tickets before they go on sale to the public. But don’t fool yourself. You’re not really competing against the general public. You’re competing against your fellow members in a chance to snap up the most-coveted tickets in all of American tennis.
The pre-sale begins in just twelve days, on 9:00 am EDT Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and ends Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Forget the end date. You will want to purchase on the very first day and maybe in the first five minutes.
Fans may remember the Tennis East Coast editorial about Arthur Ashe last year. Although I’m not espousing that you ever buy tickets in the Ashe upper promenade, how else are you getting into the men’s or women’s final?
What not to buy: Grounds passes and early round sessions generally do not sell out, and never during a member pre-sale. If you wait until July or August, you can score the same seats to the early rounds for less online. You can even get court side Armstrong box seats for less than the face value of a reserved (upper) seat in that stadium. Although the night session at Ashe is not a particularly good value in terms of time or money for a die-hard fan, the USTA’s buy-one-get-one-free deals may make it worth your consideration.
Here are the top five tickets to purchase quickly at presale:
1. Men’s Final: It has been a hot ticket for a long time, but in the last two years, you can’t find a pair on Ticketmaster after the member pre-sale. In fact, you might miss out if you don’t buy within the first half-hour.
2. Women’s final: Although you may still find a pair a couple of days into the pre-sale, don’t expect them available to the general public on Ticketmaster.
3. Men’s semis: Held on the same Saturday as the women’s final, availability for these tickets will also not survive the pre-sale.
4. Super Saturday/Labor Day weekend: The hierarchy goes like this–Saturday and Sunday are hot, hot, hot and Monday usually has more availability.
5. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day: Since you think you already knew everything I’ve told you above, I’ve saved the best for last. With Courtside Ashe tickets going for $800 and up, this is the sweetest pre-sale secret of all. For $40, you get a Courtside box seat for Kids’ Day, with up-close views of music and exhibition tennis. While you can purchase a reasonable ticket upstairs to Kids’ Day well into August, the courtside tickets are open to all and sell out within an hour. No little ones? No worries. There’s no rule that you need to bring a child to the event. With these seats, even a kid at heart will enjoy the view.
Boys’ Latin Tennis Coach and Senior Contributor Jim Magee shares his men’s picks for US Open play for the 3rd round.
Djokovic over Davydenko
Karlovic over Dolgopolov
Federer over Cilic
Isner over Bogmolov Jr.
Murray over Lopez
Ferrer over Mayer
Roddick over Benneteau
Muller over Kunitsyn
Nadal over Nalbandian
Here’s his matches to watch:
(Most interesting matches-favored player)
1-Tsongas over Verdasco
2-Fish over Anderson
(Most interesting upsets)
1-DelPotro over Simon
2-Haas over Monaco
3-Young over Chela
(Most Interesting retires)
Ferrero o Granollers-ret
Tipsarevic o Berdych-ret
Coach picked Ferrero anyway and will take himin the next round against Tipsy.
It’s important that the small group known as Tennis Maryland actually play tennis from time-to-time. That is why we skipped Legg Mason again tonight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t help but think about it the whole time.
Friday is the business end of the tournament. It’s a cliché as old as Bud Collins, but just as entertaining. Tomorrow is the kind of day where tennis fans salivate like Pavlov’s Dog, which is a worse cliché.
Fernando Verdasco, or No-Hair-Fer, as
@TennisRomi or @RacquetRequired @onthegotennis aptly designated him, plays Radek Stepanek at 2 p.m on Stadium Court. At 5 p.m., Donald Young takes on Marcos Baghdatis. Young has had a lot of support from the DC-area crowd, and we’d love to see him pull the upset. John Isner will get things going after that against Victor Troicki. Tell the babysitter you’ll be home late, because Thursday’s double-header sweeper Gael Monfils will play Janko Tipsarevic not before 9:15 p.m. If Isner plays a couple more Legg Mason Thai-Breakers against Troicki like he did against Blake, it might be more like not before 10:00 p.m. for Monfils and Tipsy.
We miss you guys down there. We’ll see you all weekend. Hope you missed us as much as we missed you. Expect confusing twitter photos and bad press conference questions from 4:00 p.m.
Value Alert: Tonight will feature fifteen matches and the top stars of men’s tennis at Legg Mason for the price of one ticket.
#1 seed Gael Monfils. Gstaad finalist Fernando Verdasco. Austrian Jurgen Melzer, World #18. Baghdatis. Daydenko. Troicki. Young. The Ryan Brothers (Harry & Sweets). The Bryan Brothers. Blake/Isner doubles (Blisner. Patent Pending). The carnival begins at 4:00 PM.
HERE’S YOUR LINEUP:
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 03, 2011
STADIUM start 4:00 pm
D Young (USA) vs  J Melzer (AUT)
Not Before 5:00 PM
 [WC] F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] M Matosevic (AUS)
Not Before 7:00 PM
 [WC] G Monfils (FRA) vs R Sweeting (USA)
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA)
GRANDSTAND start 4:00 pm
[Q] M Ebden (AUS) vs  N Davydenko (RUS)
 M Baghdatis (CYP) vs D Gremelmayr (GER) or S Devvarman (IND)
 V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] R Harrison (USA)
M Berrer (GER) vs  J Tipsarevic (SRB)
COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
 X Malisse (BEL) vs M Russell (USA)
T Haas (GER) vs  T Bellucci (BRA)
[WC] J Blake (USA) / J Isner (USA) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)
 M Llodra (FRA) vs [Q] T Smyczek (USA) or G Dimitrov (BUL)
COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
R Stepanek (CZE) vs [LL] W Odesnik (USA)
F Cipolla (ITA) vs  D Tursunov (RUS)
M Knowles (BAH) / X Malisse (BEL) vs  R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)
By 4:30 pm today, the first professional tennis tournament in Maryland history will have a champion. We root for underdogs all the time, so today’s #1 vs. #2 final is not what we’d hoped but everything for which we could have asked.
Throwing all of that away, we are backing Shahar Peer today for all the money ($37,000 to be exact). Her inspired play and passionate fans make her an exciting player to watch.
The video above shows her final game and match point in yesterday’s win over Paszek in the semis.
The doubles final will immediately follow, and it’s #1 vs. #2 again. Sonia Mirza and Yaroslava Shvedova face #2 Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva.
LEGG MASON UPDATE:
Today is Denis Kudla day on Stadium Court. The Arlington-native and College Park-trained player is a cross-town DC rising star, and expect the crowd to root for him in the first main draw match of the tournament.
Also, don’t forget: Verdasco and Fish play today. Just not in DC. Fernando Verdasco has reached the final at Gstaad, and Mardy Fish goes for the championship in Los Angeles. Both will be headed to Dulles as soon as the day is over.
Matthew Ebden will be glad he didn’t draw another UVA player today. Maybe he can keep the crowd out of it. UVA rising freshman Mitchell Frank may have lost his match to Ebden at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC yesterday, but he won the crowd. Nearly a thousand Cavalier faithful easily made this match the most raucous at Legg Mason Qualifying in years. Our video is near the end of the match as Frank is facing defeat. We wished we could have shown you the second set, won by Frank, where the Chair Umpire couldn’t even count how many times he had to settle the crowd.
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011
STADIUM start 11:00 am
Qualifying – T Smyczek (USA) vs A Kuznetsov (USA)
Not Before 1:00 PM
Qualifying – M Matosevic (AUS) vs A Delic (BIH)
Not Before 3:00 PM
[WC] D Kudla (USA) vs T Kamke (GER)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
Qualifying – C Guccione (AUS) vs J Witten (USA)
Qualifying – W Odesnik (USA) vs R Ram (USA)
COURT 1 start 10:00 am
Qualifying – M Ebden (AUS) vs P Simmonds (USA)
Qualifying – [WC] N Massu (CHI) vs A Sitak (NZL)