The ATP Barcelona, or Barcelona Open, is one of the ATP Tour’s 500 Series, and the third-tier event doesn’t tend to attract all of the world’s best players. It is played on the clay-courts of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona, where it has been played since 1953, and is generally accepted to be Spain’s second biggest tennis tournament behind the Madrid Open.
It is no surprise that last week’s winner Rafa Nadal dominated the tournament with 8 wins in 9 years between 2005 and 2013, whilst Spain has produced 12 of the 16 winners since the Millennium, and 11 of the runners-up. However, the last two renewals have been won by Japanese player Kei Nishikori. The back-to-form Nadal and Nishikori are the top two seeds this year, and they could well meet in the final, so let’s take a look at the draw.
Nadal spearheads the top-quarter, and will be looking to reclaim his crown after losing to Almagro in 2014 and Fognini in 2015, with the latter a possible opponent in the fourth round. However, Nadal will be full of confidence having won last week, and Fognini has been injured for much of the last two months. Troicki could also be a danger but, if Nadal’s in the mood to win, he should easily make the semi-finals.
Four-times Barcelona runner-up David Ferrer runner-up hasn’t been at his best so far this season, which was a similar story to last year, but the Spaniard looks to have the beating of potential opponents such as Giraldo, Kuznetsov, Kohlschreiber or Feliciani Lopez in the second-quarter. That would potentially set-up a semi-final with Nadal, which would please the locals.
Richard Gasquet and Benoit Paire are the top seeds in the third quarter but, as Gasquet has no tournament form here having never even reached the quarter-finals, this may well be a perfect opportunity for a couple of wily old clay-court campaigners in Pablo Cuevas and Nicolas Almagro to reach the latter stages, with the latter just preferred.
The fourth-quarter looks at the mercy of Nishikori, who should sail through the early rounds, and he also has a 100% record against the inform Roberto Bautista Agut who he could meet in the quarter-finals.
If the quarters go as expected then Nadal, who has an 18-2 head-to-head record against Ferrer on clay, will be long odds-on to beat his fellow Spaniard in the final. Meanwhile, Nishikori should have too much class for whoever he meets from the third-quarter.
Despite Nishikori’s recent success in the event, Nadal holds an 8-1 head-to-head lead over him, and has won both their clay-court encounters. Therefore, if you think Nadal will be up for two hard clay-court tournaments on the bounce, the 10/11 looks more than fair. However, at 9/2, an each-way bet on Nishikori would return a similar amount even if he only reaches the final.
Bet: Nishikori each-way @ 9/2 (Netbet) ½ odds 2 places