Barcelona Open 2019: Draw analysis
The claycourt season has gotten off to a fantastic start at the Monte Carlo Masters. There were twists, turns and drama, and an unexpected yet deserving player like Fabio Fognini winning the title by defeating another unexpected player Dusan Lajovic in the final.
The story has now shifted to Barcelona where almost the same set of players with the exception of Novak Djokovic are all set to fight for the title.
The draw has thrown up some interesting possibilities.
Rafael Nadal is the defending champion and the No. 1 seed as he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final 6-2, 6-1 last year. Nadal will likely face David Ferrer in the third round, assuming Ferrer defeats Mischa Zverev and Lucas Pouille in his first two matches.
Tsitsipas is also in the same half as Nadal and he is scheduled to face David Goffin the third round. There is a strong possibility that he will face Nadal in the quarter-final, and this match, if it happens, can be expected to be tighter than last year's final.
In the second quarter of the top half, the number 3 seed Dominic Thiem will probably face Frances Tiafoe in the third round. Tiafoe has performed well on the hard-courts this year, but it remains to be seen how well he performs on the clay of Barcelona.
Meanwhile, the semi-finalist at the Monte Carlo Masters Guido Pella might face Karen Khachanov in the second round. The Argentine could be expected to come out on top against the Russian considering their respective form on clay in recent times.
If Pella beats Khachanov, he might possibly face Thiem in the quarter-finals.
In the bottom half of the draw, the champion at the Monte Carlo Masters Fabio Fognini could face the young Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the third round. If this matchup does happen, it will be an enthralling battle pitting two spectacular shot-makers against each other.
Another young Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime could face the German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, and the German is expected to get the better of the Canadian.
If Kohlschreiber also defeats Nishikori in the third round, he could face Fognini in the quarter-finals which would be a real test of the Italian's temperament.
In the second quarter of the bottom half, the young Russian Daniil Medvedev, who reached the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, could possibly face Gilles Simon in the third round. Considering the Russian's form, he could easily reach the quarter-finals without any trouble.
On the other hand, the German Alexander Zverev might face Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, who gave stiff competition to Nadal in Monte Carlo - at least in the first set. This match will be interesting as both the players are trying to recoup their lost form, and the result could possibly be dependent more upon endurance than shot-making.
Projected Quarter-final match-ups:
1) Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
2) Guido Pella vs Dominic Thiem
3) Philipp Kohlscreiber vs Fabio Fognini
4) Daniil Medvedev vs Alexander Zverev
It has been good to see some young and raw talent trying to make it big this year, both on hard and clay courts. Even though Nadal is a serious contender this time in Barcelona, it will not be a surprise to see a new champion.