In keeping with his gradual return to the ATP World Tour, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will begin his campaign in Barcelona with a decent clay court challenge in Marcel Granollers. The Frenchman has encountered his Spanish counterpart on two previous occasions, and leads the head-to-head series 2-0.
Although Tsonga is coming off a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an arm injury, he still managed to show some positive signs in his recovery with his performances over the past couple of weeks on the tour. Following a loss in just his second match back on the tour to Gael Monfils in Miami, Tsonga defeated Jan-Lennard Struff and David Goffin in Monte Carlo before losing to Marin Cilic in the following fourth round match. While he was downed in straight sets, he ultimately showed that he is en route back to full form.
His second round opponent in Barcelona will be Marcel Granollers, who reached that stage of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Marinko Matosevic. He won 63% of his first service points and saved five break points to close out the match in one hour and 28 minutes.
This marks the third time that Tsonga and Granollers will meet on the ATP World Tour. Tsonga leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both of which took place on hard courts four years apart. The first win was in 2008, while the second one took place in 2012. Apart from the advantage of having already practiced on this particular court during his first round match, it is difficult to see how Granollers could beat Tsonga to reach the third round.
Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Straight Sets