RICKY’S PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK’S ATP TENNIS TOURNEYS IN BARCELONA AND BUCHAREST

Written by: on 22nd April 2018
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RICKY'S PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK'S ATP TENNIS TOURNEYS IN BARCELONA AND BUCHAREST  |
Photo by @bcnopenbs via Twitter

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Don’t worry about a lull in between the Monte-Carlo Masters and the next two Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome. After all, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell is no slouch even though it is a 500-point event as opposed to a 1000-pointer. Even before Novak Djokovic secured a late wild card, the field already featured Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, and David Goffin. The story is a much different one in Budapest, but if nothing else that draw at least includes fellow Frenchmen Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet.

 

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Where: Barcelona, Spain

Points: 500

Top seed: Rafael Nadal

Defending champion: Rafael Nadal

 

There is no such thing as a difficult draw on clay for Nadal, but if there was…this would be it. Nishikori, who finished runner-up to Nadal in Monte-Carlo on Monday, is one of only three players who have won the Barcelona title since 2004 (Nadal 1-0 times, Fernando Verdasco in 2010, and Nishikori in both 2014 and 2015). A rematch of the Monte-Carlo final could be in store just four days later in the Barcelona third round. Also in the same section is a seemingly rejuvenated Djokovic, who could go up against the Nadal-Nishikori winner in the quarterfinals. There is at least some balance in the draw with Thiem on the other side, but Goffin is a potential semifinal adversary for Nadal. Goffin’s quarter is also home to Hyeon Chung, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Karen Khachanov.

 

In what should be nothing more than a race for Barcelona second place behind the world No. 2, Thiem is on collision course for the third round with Verdasco. But the most stacked part of the brackets’ bottom half features the second-seeded Dimitrov along with Andrey Rublev and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Dimitrov got through a three-setter against Kohlschreiber in Monte-Carlo and they could square off again as early as round two in Barcelona. Rublev, who held a match point on Thiem in Monte-Carlo before falling 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, could run into either Dimitrov or Kohlschreiber in the round of 16.

 

First-round upset possibility: Nicolas Jarry over Benoit Paire. Paire (48th) is ranked higher than Jarry (65th) for the time being, but that may not be the case too long. The Frenchman has struggled in 2018 and lost right away on clay in both Marrakech and Monte-Carlo. Jarry, on the other hand, made his breakout on tour during February’s Golden Swing with a quarterfinal performance in Quito, a semifinal run in Rio de Janeiro, and a runner-up finish in Sao Paulo.

 

Quarterfinal picks: Rafael Nadal over Novak Djokovic, David Goffin over Hyeon Chung, Dominic Thiem over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Andrey Rublev over Pablo Cuevas

Semifinals: Nadal over Goffin and Thiem over Rublev

Final: Nadal over Thiem

 

Gazprom Hungarian Open

Where: Budapest, Hungary

Points: 250

Top seed: Lucas Pouille

Defending champion: Lucas Pouille

 

Pouille could really use a successful title defense in Budapest. The world No. 11, who won the inaugural Hungarian Open last spring, posted back-to-back runner-up performances in Marseille and Dubai but has since slumped. He lost his Indian Wells opener to Yuki Bhambri and did the same in Monte-Carlo against Mischa Zverev. Even though Barcelona makes Budapest look like a borderline Challenger event by comparison, Pouille’s draw is not simple. The top seed awaits either John Millman or Radu Albot, could run into Hungarian hopeful Marton Fucsovics in the quarters, and is on a track to meet Gasquet in the semifinals.

 

The bottom half is especially wide open. Neither first-round bye recipient (Damir Dzumhur and Denis Shapovalov) has ever reached a clay-court ATP final and Shapovalov has never advanced to any kind of final at the ATP level. Dzumhur’s draw is a friendly one on paper, but he may have to meet fellow Bosnian Mirza Basic in the second round. Shapovalov’s clay-court game is likely to be tested by Italians Paolo Lorenzi and Andreas Seppi in the second round and quarterfinals, respectively.

 

First-round upset possibility: Marius Copil d. (5) Aljaz Bedene. Copil and Bedene faced each other twice at this tournament last year. That’s right; they squared off in qualifying and again in the first round of the main draw with Copil as a lucky loser. Bedene won both times, but the Slovenian has not done anything of note since reaching the Rio de Janeiro quarterfinals in February and Copil is a respectable 8-6 at the ATP level this season.

 

Quarterfinal picks: Lucas Pouille over Marton Fucsovics, Richard Gasquet over Aljaz Bedene, Andreas Seppi over Denis Shapovalov, and Jan-Lennard Struff over Marco Cecchinato

Semifinals: Gasquet over Pouille and Seppi over Struff

Final: Gasquet over Seppi

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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