Barcelona and Budapest preview and predictions

Rafael Nadal won back-to-back titles last year in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona (his only two titles in 2016). He is halfway to accomplishing the same feat after triumphing in Monte-Carlo for the 10th time in his career on Sunday. Now he moves to Barcelona, where challengers include Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem, and David Goffin, among many others. Kei Nishikori was the No. 2 seed until he withdrew because of a wrist injury.

Also taking place this week is an inaugural event in Budapest (previously held in Bucharest). Much unlike the situation in Barcelona, the Budapest title should be completely up for grabs among the likes of Lucas Pouille, Fabio Fognini, Fernando Verdasco, and Diego Schwartzman.

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Where: Barcelona, Spain
Surface: Clay
Points
: 500
Prize money
: 2,324,905 Euros

Top seed: Andy Murray
Defending champion: Rafael Nadal

Draw analysis: In previous years, a third-round showdown in Barcelona between Nadal and David Ferrer would be alarmingly too soon. That is no longer the case, as Ferrer is a shadow of his former self and mired in a prolonged slump. Nadal, on the other hand, is an outstanding 24-5 this season and back up to No. 5 in the world. Similarly, a potential quarterfinal affair between Nadal and Alexander Zverev may not be as entertaining as the name recognition suggests. After all, they just faced each other in Monte-Carlo and Nadal soured Zverev’s 20th birthday with a 6-1, 6-1 beatdown. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Nicolas Almagro are other potential quarterfinal adversaries for the nine-time Barcelona champion.

The bottom half of the draw also features Goffin—who lost to Nadal in the Monte-Carlo semis—and Monte-Carlo quarterfinalist (and doubles champion) Pablo Cuevas. Goffin and Cuevas may have to go head-to-head in the third round, and the winner would be favored to reach the final four now that Nishikori is out.

At the top of the bracket, Murray is looking to bounce back from an early exit in Monte-Carlo at the hands of eventual runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas. They could square off again in this week’s quarters, but Murray may first have to get past Feliciano Lopez and Ramos-Vinolas is on a third-round collision course with Roberto Bautista Agut. Dominic Thiem has to like his draw in the second section of the top half, but an in-form Pablo Carreno Busta would be a tough matchup in the quarters.

First-round upset alert: Carlos Berlocq over (13) David Ferrer. Ferrer has finally hit the wall at 35 years old, or so it seems. The veteran Spaniard is 3-6 this season and in danger of being unseeded for the French Open with a current ranking of No. 33 in the world. Ferrer has not won a match since the Australian Open, whereas Berlocq is coming off a second-round performance in Monte-Carlo as a qualifier. Six of the Argentine’s seven ATP-level match victories in 2017 have come on clay. Moreover, Berlocq is 2-1 in the head-to-head series (all three matches on clay) after crushing Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 earlier this season in Buenos Aires.

Hot: Rafael Nadal, David Goffin, Pablo Carreno Busta, Pablo Cuevas, Jan-Lennard Struff, Kyle Edmund

Cold: Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer, Mischa Zverev, Bernard Tomic, Albert Montanes, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Anderson, Karen Khachanov

Quarterfinal predictions: Andy Murray over Roberto Bautista Agut, Dominic Thiem over Pablo Carreno Busta, Rafael Nadal over Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Pablo Cuevas over Benoit Paire

Semifinals: Thiem over Murray and Nadal over Cuevas

Final: Nadal over Thiem

Hungarian Open

Where: Budapest, Hungary
Surface: Clay
Points
: 250
Prize money
: 482,060 Euros

Top seed: Lucas Pouille
Defending champion: Inaugural event

Draw analysis: Pouille could have used a favorable draw in Budapest after making a deep run in Monte-Carlo and dealing with an apparent back issue during a semifinal loss to Ramos-Vinolas. But that is not what he got. The top-seeded Frenchman will open against either Jiri Vesely or Marrakech champion Borna Coric and he is also in a quarter with Gilles Simon and Martin Klizan. A relatively loaded top half of the bracket also includes Fognini, Paolo Lorenzi, and Adrian Mannarino.

Schwartzman has a clay-court title to defend in Istanbul next week, but he may be able to go ahead and win another one in Budapest. The 41st-ranked Argentine owns 12 ATP-level match victories this season and has reached three quarterfinals on the red stuff, including in Monte-Carlo (lost to Nadal 6-4, 6-4). Schwartzman could have some tricky early-round tests with Robin Haase and Federico Delbonis, but being in Ivo Karlovic’s quarter of the draw presents a big opportunity. Meanwhile, Verdasco has to like his chances of reaching at least the semifinals from a section that is also home to Viktor Troicki, Evgeny Donskoy, and Daniil Medvedev.

First-round upset alert: (LL) Evgeny Donskoy over (7) Viktor Troicki. Who is the only player to beat Roger Federer this year? That would be none other than Donskoy, who saved three match points and recovered from a 5-1 deficit in the third-set tiebreaker to stun the Swiss 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(5) in Dubai. The 98th-ranked Russian has since disappeared aside from capturing a Challenger title, and he lost in qualifying in Marrakech, Monte-Carlo, and even in Budapest (he got a spot in the main draw thanks to Marsel Ilhan’s withdrawal). Troicki is also slumping, though, and clearly Donskoy can get super hot on any given day.

Hot: Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwartzman, Borna Coric, Daniil Medvedev

Cold: Ivo Karlovic, Gilles Simon, Martin Klizan

Semifinal predictions: Gilles Simon over Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman over Fernando Verdasco

Final: Schwartzman over Simon

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

11 Comments on Barcelona and Budapest preview and predictions

  1. Well, Budapest = too many possibilities. I like Schwartzman, Fognini, Simon, and Verdasco. Sort of in that order. Pouille would need a lot of luck.

    Barcelona: The winner is Rafa. But the runner-up is far from clear. I’d like to think RU would be Andy Murray but it’s too soon. Hoping Andy can be match tough for Madrid.
    Well-spotted, (I think), LL Donskoy over Troicki first round. I’ll take him

  2. Barcelona:
    QF-
    Ramos-Vinolas over Garcia-Lopez
    Thiem over Carreno Busta
    Nadal over Kohlschreiber
    Goffin over Sousa
    SF-
    Thiem over Ramos-Vinolas
    Nadal over Goffin
    Final-
    Nadal over Thiem

  3. Budapest:
    QF-
    Simon over Coric
    Fognini over Mannarino
    Verdasco over Djere
    Schwartzman over Karlovic
    SF-
    Fognini over Simon
    Verdasco over Schwartzman
    Final-
    Verdasco over Fognini

  4. I have Nando winning in Budapest but honestly I could also see him losing to Fucsovics and Fucsovics making a run to the semis or something. The Hungarian can play. Still I got a Spanish lefty taking both titles this week. #vamos

  5. 04/22/2017
    Kei Nishikori pulls out of the tournament due to a wrist injury
    Kei Nishikori, two-time Barcelona Open champion Banc Sabadell, has been forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a right wrist injury. Injured at the Masters 1,000 in Miami a few weeks ago, the Japanese tennis player has done everything possible in Barcelona to be ready in his debut, which was supposed to be Tuesday, but during his practice this morning he hurt himself again and therefore will not participate in the tournament.

    Nishikori has been heartbroken for not being able to play in one of his favorite tournaments. “I’m sorry to have to pull out from the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Obviously it is one of my favorite tournaments and I have very good memories of the past years, “said Nishikori, who will fly to Florida in the next few hours.

    “My right wrist, unfortunately, has not recovered enough to play this week,” he added. I will go with my team and work on getting back on the tour as quick as possible.

    https://www.barcelonaopenbancsabadell.com/en/news/kei-nishikori-pulls-out-tournament-due-wrist-injury

  6. Why has Ferrer declined so much? He’s even losing to Anderson on clay now! He’s in such a sorry state now, sad to see!

    On another note, Ferrer has such a nice full head of hair! His hair looks so soft and so nicely styled; it’s better than Fed’s (by the way Fed is losing his hair too, not only Rafa is losing hair).

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