Barcelona R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Anderson, Murray vs. Lopez

Rafael Nadal remained in clay-court cruise control on Wednesday and he will be back in action–weather permitting–against Kevin Anderson on Thursday in Barcelona. Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez are also aiming for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Kevin Anderson vs. (3) Rafael Nadal

Nadal dropped a set to Kyle Edmund in his Monte-Carlo opener, but since then he has been his typically dominant self on red clay. The fifth-ranked Spaniard won his last nine sets last week 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, and 6-3 en route to his 10th career Monte-Carlo title and he is now trying to accomplish the same feat at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. He had no trouble of any kind in his second-rounder on Wednesday, when he drubbed Rogerio Dutral Silva 6-1, 6-2 to improve his 2017 record to 25-5 (6-0 in clay).

Up next for Nadal on Thursday is a fourth career showdown against Anderson, who trails the head-to-head series 3-0. All three previous encounters have come on hard courts, with the 14-time Grand Slam champion most recently prevailing 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 at the 2015 Paris Masters. Anderson was at the height of his game at that point, but he has since struggled mightily with injuries and general rust. The 6’8” South African is just 4-5 this year and toiling down at 66th in the rankings. So far in Barcelona, however, Anderson has produced solid clay-court wins over Carlos Berlocq and David Ferrer. But the toughest clay-court test of them all should see a swift end to Anderson’s week.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing 5-7 games

(1) Andy Murray vs. (16) Feliciano Lopez

Murray and Lopez will be squaring off for the 11th time in their careers but for the first time in more than two years when they meet on Thursday. The head-to-head series stands at a perfect 10-0 in favor of Murray, who is an even more dominant 24-2 in total sets against Lopez. They have faced each other only once on clay, with the current world No. 1 having gotten the job done 7-6(5), 6-4 at the 2008 Monte-Carlo Masters.

This will be Murray’s first match of the week in Barcelona, because he got a second-round walkover from Bernard Tomic (back injury) after the Aussie ousted Dustin Brown in his opener. The top-seeded Scot is an abbreviated 13-4 this season and he has played a mere three matches since capturing the Dubai title in early March. Murray lost right away in Indian Wells to Vasek Pospisil, skipped Miami because of an elbow issue, and fell to eventual runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the Monte-Carlo third round. Lopez, who is a modest 6-8 for his 2017 campaign, ended the career of fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes with a 6-2, 6-2 victory on Wednesday. The world No. 40 could really use another win or two in his bid for French Open and Wimbledon seeding, but he has been hopeless against Murray in the past and this surface will not help matters for the underdog.

Pick: Murray in 2 with at least one tiebreaker

5 Comments on Barcelona R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Anderson, Murray vs. Lopez

  1. Well, well, so Chung won! I guess the best laud plans can go awry! No chance for Zverev to have that shot with Rafa!

    Maybe he will get another chance at Madrid or Rome. I don’t know anything about Chung or his game. I am thinking that Rafa most likely has never played him.

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