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Tennis | Ricky’s Preview And Picks For Barcelona • Rafa Leads Strong Field

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Fabio Fognini of Italy during their semi final match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 20 April 2018. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER



Ricky’s preview and picks for this week’s 500-point event in Barcelona


By Ricky Dimon


Rafael Nadal was the top seed and defending champion in Monte-Carlo, going for a 12th title at that event. It didn’t work out, as Nadal suffered an upset loss to Fabio Fognini during semifinal action.


The situation is the exact same this week in Barcelona: Nadal is the top seed, defending champion, and already an 11-time winner.


“(The) problem sometimes is we are used to be (being) very, very solid all the time, and even coming back from injuries, winning and winning and winning,” the second-ranked Spaniard said after falling to Fognini at last week’s Masters 1000 tournament. (But) things are not easy…. (It) is more difficult to hold sometimes the level every single day when you don’t have confidence.”


Still, Nadal should have more confidence this week with one clay-court event under his belt (Monte-Carlo, on the other hand, was his first appearance since a withdrawal from the Indian Wells semifinals). The 32-year-old underwhelmed against Fognini, but he had previously disposed of Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov, and Guido Pella in straight sets.


Nadal’s path through Barcelona starts with Leonardo Mayer before possibly featuring David Ferrer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, and then perhaps Fognini, Alexander Zverev, Kei Nishikori, or Daniil Medvedev in the final.


In a tough top half of the draw, Thiem is also looking to bounce back from an early loss in Monte-Carlo (upset by eventual finalist Dusan Lajovic in the third round). The 2018 French-Open runner-up awaits either Diego Schwartzman over Yoshihito Nishioka before potentially running into either Frances Tiafoe or Jaume Munar.


On the other side of the bracket, Zverev will be eager to get his 2019 campaign into high gear. The third-ranked German has struggled of late and he may hard-pressed to turn things around in Barcelona, where Dimitrov could be a difficult third-round opponent. A red-hot Medvedev, who beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo, is a possible quarterfinal foe for Zverev.


Quarterfinal picks: Rafael Nadal over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem over Guido Pella, Kei Nishikori over Martin Klizan, and Daniil Medvedev over Grigor Dimitrov

Semifinal picks: Nadal over Thiem and Medvedev over Nishikori

Final pick: Nadal over Medvedev


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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