ATP Barcelona 2013 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For the full draw, please click here: ATP Barcelona 2013 Draw

Alongside Bucharest, the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell is one of two clay tournaments this week. The ATP World Tour 500 event is the second clay 500 of the year and the first of them in Europe. Unsurprisingly, Rafael Nadal has dominated this tournament like many others with a record seven titles between 2005 and 2012. Fernando Verdasco was champion in 2010, the year that Nadal could not compete.

Despite his previous success, Nadal is not top seed as he still sits behind David Ferrer in the rankings. Ferrer looks to have the kinder half of the draw with many of the power players populating Nadal’s half instead. First up is most likely Denis Istomin who faces the qualifier Dmitry Tursunov. Tursunov rarely plays on clay with no more than two ATP World Tour matches in any of the last four years. However, Istomin’s clay exploits himself have only been during Davis Cup including against Australia where he defeated Marinko Matosevic and lost to Bernard Tomic. Wildcard Pablo Carreno-Busta has been making waves on the lower levels in tennis with a 30+ match winning streak which was finally ended in Casablanca but not before the Spaniard had defeated Pablo Andujar. He plays Robin Haase who made it seven first round exits on the year in Monte Carlo, this time losing do Edouard Roger-Vasselin. 16th seed Thomaz Bellucci awaits in round two – Haase defeated the Brazilian in straight sets last year in Monte Carlo.

Ricardas Berankis was fairly impressive in his rare foray onto the clay, defeating Tommy Haas and pushing John Isner to three sets. He  faces another Spanish wildcard in Albert Montanes with the winner taking on Martin Klizan. Klizan was brushed aside with ease by a revitalised Juan Monaco, from whom he took just four games. Igor Sijsling plays Andrey Kuznetsov continues to struggle on the main tour but was also an early exit in Rome Challenger, defeated by eventual winner Julian Reister. Philipp Kohlschreiber showed improvements last week defeating Pablo Andujar and Thomaz Bellucci but was eventually dealt with easily by  Rafael Nadal.

Nicolas Almagro looks the main threat to Ferrer in terms of ability but the 0-13 head to head is always going to stick in the back of his mind. Ivan Dodig or Aljaz Bedene are first up for Almagro – Dodig lost his first tour clay match of the year in Monte Carlo to Benoit Paire while Bedene is 3-0 in first rounds on clay this year but has yet to advance past the second. An all-Spanish third round is very possible with Marcel Granollers playing Alejandro Falla or Blaz Kavcic. Usually fairly successful on clay, though at a lower level, Falla will be playing his first match on the surface this year.

The French are well represented in the final section of the top half of the draw, headed by tenth seed Jeremy Chardy. Chardy isn’t playing to the level his ranking suggests right now, with five straight losses including a three set loss to Pablo Andujar in Monte Carlo. Paolo Lorenzi should see off Guillaume Rufin (1-0 H2H) while Kenny de Schepper could have had worse draws than Bernard Tomic who continues to struggle on clay. Tomic failed to break Alexandr Dolgopolov once last week despite the Ukranian’s horrible first serve percentage. A revitalised Juan Monaco awaits in the next round, fresh off taking a set from Djokovic last week.

After departing early in Monte Carlo to Jarkko Nieminen, Milos Raonic will be hoping to do better in Barcelona and plays Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Jan Hajek to begin with. Hajek has always performed well in clay Challengers but was a surprise early loser in Rome to Martin Fischer. Fernando Verdasco was shocking in defeat to Marinko Matosevic in Monte Carlo last week and will be out early again if he repeats the standard of performance here. Ernests Gulbis should defeat Radek Stepanek to play Verdasco if he is over the drama of his Monte Carlo exit last week.

Before Novak Djokovic defeated Nadal in the Monte Carlo final, Grigor Dimitrov had made one of the best attempts at defeating the Spaniard in his lengthy unbeaten run at the tournament. The Bulgarian definitely looks to be on his way to fulfilling the potential many believe he has. He will play a Spaniard first, either Tommy Robredo or Marc Lopez. Doubles specialist Lopez qualified for his first tournament in a long time while Robredo was a shock winner in Casablanca. The likely third round tie between Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov should make for some interesting viewing should they both get there. Berdych plays the winner of Nikolay Davydenko and wildcard Roberto Carballes-Baena.

Finally, the fourth quarter sees numerous Spaniards alongside the seeded up-and-comers to try and end the lengthy winning streak here of Rafael Nadal. First up for Nadal is either Carlos Berlocq or Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Berlocq leads the head to head 4-1 but lost the most recent encounter this year in Acapulco. Meanwhile, Nadal has a win over both players from his South American journeys this year. He could face another Spaniard in Pablo Andujar if Andujar can see off Grega Zemlja and then Benoit Paire. Paire has defeated Andujar twice in the past year and these types of matches need to be won by the Frenchman if he is to continue his surge up the rankings. His topsy turvy 1-6 6-3 1-6 defeat to Richard Gasquet sums up the unpredictability of Paire.

Kei Nishikori will face a Spaniard in his opener – either qualifier Guillermo Olaso or Gerard Granollers-Pujol. Gerard is the younger brother of Marcel and played just one main tour match last year, losing to Albert Montanes in this tournament. Granollers-Pujol has won the only meeting between the two at Challenger level but has three losses at Futures to Olaso. Meanwhile, another Spaniard in Albert Ramos should see off Jan Lennard Struff to book a second round match with Jerzy Janowicz. Janowicz has been up and down so far this year, most recently losing a close one to Kevin Anderson in Monte Carlo.

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