Barcelona SF previews and picks: Almagro vs. Giraldo, Nishikori vs. Gulbis

Gulbis forehandNicolas Almagro will be back in action one day after upsetting Rafael Nadal as he goes up against Santiago Giraldo on Saturday in Barcelona. Kei Nishikori and Ernests Gulbis are also looking for a place in the final.

(6) Nicolas Almagro vs. Santiago Giraldo

Almagro and Giraldo will be going head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers when they do battle in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Saturday. All five of their previous meetings have gone Almagro’s way, including two on clay. They have not faced each other since the 2012 Madrid event, where Almagro prevailed 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3. Only one of their three encounters did not progress to a final set, so Giraldo has been competitive.

Both players are making unexpected appearances in the last four. Almagro is coming off a three-set upset of Rafael Nadal, which was preceded by scalps of Martin Klizan and Fernando Verdasco. Giraldo looked dead and buried against Dominic Thiem in the third round on Thursday, but he saved multiple match points while coming back from 5-3 down in the third set. The 65th-ranked Colombian has also taken out Igor Sijsling, Fabio Fognini (via retirement), and Philipp Kohlschreiber (via retirement). Bouncing right back after an emotional win is tough, but Almagro has been on fire this week and he possesses entirely superior firepower to Giraldo.

Pick: Almagro in 2

(4) Kei Nishikori vs. (9) Ernests Gulbis

It may not have seemed likely at the beginning of the tournament, but Nishikori is the highest remaining seed in Barcelona. The world No. 17 has maintained outstanding form with wins this week over Roberto Bautista Agut, Andrey Golubev, and Marin Cilic while dropping just one set to Bautista Agut in the process. In fact, Nishikori has not lost a match since the Indian Wells third round, as he reached the Miami semifinals then pulled out due to a groin injury.

Up next for Nishikori is Gulbis, against whom he is 1-0 lifetime. Their only previous encounter came back in 2008 on the green clay of the Bermuda Challenger, with Japan’s top player scoring a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory in a showdown between teenagers. Gulbis has advanced in Barcelona with straight-set defeats of Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Albert Montanes, and Teymuraz Gabashvili. The 23rd-ranked Latvian is now 18-7 for the season. Based on a slight edge in current form and the surface (Gulbis would prefer to contest this one on a slight hard court), Nishikori has to like his chances.

Pick: Nishikori in 3

57 Comments on Barcelona SF previews and picks: Almagro vs. Giraldo, Nishikori vs. Gulbis

  1. Almagro and Kei, with Kei winning the title.

    Vamos Kei! Show Ricky you are not mediocre on clay! 😀

    • augusta,

      Thanks for the info, but I don’t know how to do the formatting to convert the emoticons. I have been trying to find it, but it’s confusing.

      • nativenewyorker7@April 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm

        You don’t need to format anything! Just type letters & symbols you see next to a picture of an emoticon.

  2. both great up coming talent ! toe to toe, nishikori might escape in 3rd 7-6 you never know
    who is winning in this tornament

  3. Just watched Kei stamp all over Petulant Percy!
    Mystic Moggy needs new tea leaves/crystal ball…..;)

  4. Almagro looked great yesterday, and both Gulbis and Nkori are on fire…should be fun tennis in Gaudios wonderland!

  5. RT @bbtennisnation: “This was a match Nico Almagro should win he was 5-0H2H vs Giraldo ”

    Elvis is out. His tournament win was yesterday when he beat Rafa. Idiot.

    I remember when Rafa beat Novak in the RG semis last year, he would not be drawn into any celebrations. He kept saying, this was just the semi final, there is a final still to play.

    Vamos Santi!!

  6. Now perhaps Amalgro will have a bit more respect for what Rafa has achieved year in and year out for over 10 years.

  7. You guys are hard!
    I felt sorry for Amalgro. Did the heavy lifting yesterday….. But well played SG!

      • No! But I can feel sorry for him, can’t I?
        Stop jumping on me Augusta! This is not just a Rafa fan site.

      • True nadline 🙂 Au contraire I have had so much practise watching Andy lose, that I seldom feel “fury” towards his opponents.

      • Apologies Augusta, just felt like that.I am indifferent to Amalgro, but after all those years of being beaten by Rafa, inevitable his celebration would be waaayyy over the top. And I’m sorry for him now, going out with fairly mediocre play and not getting a look at the title.
        Hope Kei wins now. He looked rock solid

  8. So I was right yesterday when I suggested he was celebrating getting the better of Rafa – not reaching the semi-final. Dah.

    He’s going to regret that bald faced comment the next time he plays Rafa.

  9. ^^^ ed in all fairness. People would remember him more for his giant killing than the title. Rosol is known for the 2nd round win over Rafa than the Bucharest title. Similarly nobody would care that verdasco won Barcelona in 2010 without Rafa, however a win over Rafa would be remembered for a longer period than a Nishi/Giraldo title in Barca. I for one, would cut Magro some slack for his OTT celebration. Remember he was held MP’s at the Paris masters in 09 before losing to Rafa. It must have been so big for him to beat Rafa.

    • ^^^^point taken. Put my waspish remarks down to the old fashioned sense of fair play which was instilled into my generation ?

  10. When I was at school it was dinned into us that taking part in competitive sports was what mattered: not the winning! Which probably explains why it took 77 years for a British player to win Wimbledon 😀

  11. I didn’t watch Almagro’s celebration upon winning and maybe it’s for the best. The one thing I will say is that if he really was disrespectful to Rafa, then that may well come back to bite him in the butt when they meet again!

    I would love to see Nishi win this title.

      • Agreed It wasn’t calculated disrespect .
        The exuberance was understandable but the ‘in your face’ celebration before the ritual handshake was an unfortunate lapse of manners.

    • augusta,

      That’s what I have been doing. But sometimes I make a mistake and then it comes up wrong. I just have to be more careful when I type.

      Thanks so much for replying to me in a place where I could easily see it. I wasn’t sure if you would see my reply to you. So I am doing it right! 😉

Comments are closed.

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