Finals previews and picks: Nishikori vs. Andujar, Garcia-Lopez vs. Vesely

KeiKei Nishikori will bid for a second straight title on Sunday against surprising finalist Pablo Andujar. In Bucharest, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Jiri Vesely are battling for the winner’s trophy.

Barcelona: (1) Kei Nishikori vs. Pablo Andujar

Nishikori and Andujar will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers when they clash in the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 2-1 in favor of Nishikori, who most recently got past Andujar via a retirement at the 2014 U.S. Open (the Japanese man led 6-4, 6-1 at the time). Their only previous clay-court meeting came at the Madrid Masters in 2013, when Andujar prevailed 6-3, 7-5.

Nishikori’s title defense has been progressing smoothly, with victories over Teymuraz Gabashvili, Santiago Giraldo, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Martin Klizan. The world No. 5 has surrendered only one set (to Bautista Agut) while improving his record on the year to 25-5. Andujar took advantage of Rafael Nadal’s loss at the hands of Fabio Fognini to punch his ticket to a seventh career ATP final (3-3 record in those matches). The 66th-ranked Spaniard has taken out Fognini, Albert Ramos-Vinalos, Leonardo Mayer, Feliciano Lopez, and David Ferrer. Andujar has also dropped just one set in the process. The surface and his final experience will help the underdog’s chances, but he would need an off day from Nishikori in order to triumph–and those are few and far between right now.

Pick: Nishikori in 2 losing 5-7 games

Bucharest: (7) Jiri Vesely (5) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

Like Andujar (1-7 in his previous eight matches), Vesely had been mired in a considerable slump prior to this week. The 21-year-old Czech was 2-9 in his last 11 matches heading into the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy. But a semifinal showing in Casablanca indicated signs of life in Vesely and he has advanced one step further in Bucharest with wins over Diego Schwartzman, Malek Jaziri, Ivo Karlovic, and Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Up next for the seventh seed is a first-ever ATP-level encounter with Garcia-Lopez (Garcia-Lopez leads 2-1 on the Challenger circuit, all on clay). The 45th-ranked Spaniard earned a place in his eighth career ATP final by dispatching Lorenzo Giustino, Marcos Baghdatis, Lukas Rosol, and Gael Monfils. Garcia-Lopez’s superior experience at this stage of tournaments and his slight surface advantage should help him hold off Vesely in a competitive contest.

Pick: Garcia-Lopez in 3

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