Sunday, 21 April 2013

ATP Barcelona: Preview and Predictions

Time is limited so I am going to get straight down to dissecting next week's Barcelona draw.  Note that the top 16 players all have byes into round two.  

David Ferrer
David Ferrer returns to action having missed Monte-Carlo and along with Rafael Nadal, headlines Barcelona.  Ferrer will open up against Dmitry Tursunov or Denis Istomin in round two.  The draw looks relatively routine to the quarter-finals where he is projected pass through Thomasz Bellucci (in round 3) and then Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarter-finals.  Kohlschreiber managed to find some form in Monte-Carlo having gone on a 4 match losing streak since the Australian Open.  He is scheduled to meet Martin Klizan in the third round.

Nicolas Almagro headlines the second quarter and will meet Aljaz Bedene or Ivan Dodig in the second round.  His fellow Spaniard, Marcel Granollers could await in the third round, although I expect Alejandro Falla to be dangerous in this section.  Juan Monaco is likely to meet Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals; following a barren run of form through the first couple of months of the season, Monaco made semi-finals in Houston and 3rd round in Monte-Carlo.  The clay looks to have awakened him from an injury-induced slumber and I think he could have a very good week.  He could meet Bernard Tomic in round two, but the Aussie is not much cop on the clay.  Jeremy Chardy, another projected opponent, has also struggled for form since a run to the quarter-finals at the Aussie Open.

I am predicting a big upset in the third quarter where Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic reside.  Berdych is very likely to meet Nikolay Davydenko in the second round; the Russian player has a good record over Berdych and the Czech player's form in Monte-Carlo was suspect so I am going for the upset win.  This section is by far the toughest as Grigor Dimitrov and Tommy Robredo will be battling to play Berdych/Davydenko in round three.  

Dimitrov showed a lot of promise in a three set loss to Nadal in Monte-Carlo, meanwhile Robredo rolled back the years to win in Casablanca a week ago.  Dimitrov is my tip for the quarter-finals, but it is Raonic who I see going one step further to the semi-finals.  He did great here last year and has a favourable draw with Fernando Verdasco in his section, who cannot win for toffee at the minute.  He does now have Ernests Gulbis to possibly contend with, who came through qualifying, but you never know what the unpredictable Austrian is going to dish up...

Rafael Nadal will open up his Barcelona campaign against either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Carlos Berlocq.  His third round opponent is projected to be Benoit Paire.  His quarter-final opponent will come from an interesting section that is headlined by Kei Nishikori and Jerzy Janowicz.  Nishikori has had a very solid and consistent year, which would have been even better if injuries had not derailed him.  I read that Janowicz was battling an ear infection so I don't fancy him to do well here.  I predict Nishikori to make the quarters and give Nadal a good run out...

1st Round Predictions: 
Bautista-Agut to beat Istomin in 3 sets
Montanes to beat Berankis in 3 sets
Falla to beat Kavcic in 2 sets
Lorenzi to beat Rufin in 2 sets
Gulbis to beat Stepanek in 2 tight sets *this should be a hilarious match*
Andujar to beat Zemlja in 2 tight sets
Berlocq to beat Gimeno-Traver in 2 sets
Final Prediction - Nadal d. Monaco
Despite Nadal's loss in the Monte-Carlo, it still feels wrong to go against him in a clay court tournament, particularly in Barcelona where the calibre of the field does not compare to Monte-Carlo.  I think Ferrer could be a little rusty and I see him falling to Monaco in the semi-finals.  The third quarter is the most interesting and I see an interesting quarter between Dimitrov and Raonic; I think Dimitrov is the better player, but when I saw the draw, I had a good feeling for Raonic...

You can now view my full predictions for Barcelona along with WTA Marrakech and ATP Bucharest, which I will not have time to follow in detail this week.  Marrakech is likely to see some upsets so I have gone for a few wild picks and Bucharest baffles me to see Janko Tipsarevic as the top seed as I thought he was taking a break...

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