The early elimination of No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev sent a message to the other big names: nobody is safe at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. On Wednesday, among other things, Rafael Nadal begins his quest to capture his 12th title at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona.
ATP Barcelona Day 3 Predictions
Grigor Dimitrov vs Fernando Verdasco
Head to Head: Dimitrov 3-3 Verdasco
In five out of six meetings, a deciding set was required. The lone exception? A Verdasco straight forward 76 62 64 victory at Roland Garros last year. Neither player is arriving with the desirable rhythm. A nagging shoulder injury forced Dimitrov to skip Indian Wells. The Bulgarian, who has fallen out of the Top 40 for the first time since 2013, played a good tournament in Monte Carlo until he met his nemesis Nadal. For his part, Verdasco obtained his first clay win of the campaign against the struggling Feliciano Lopez in the first round. I reckon he’ll need more match play to find his groove.
Prediction: Dimitrov in 3
Pablo Carreño-Busta vs Benoit Paire
Official Head to Head: Carreño 3-5 Paire
Consistency against unpredictability. Well, the former comes with an asterisk, since Carreño’s level is an unknown quantity at the moment. The Gijon native has not completed a match since his memorable outburst against Kei Nishikori at the Australian Open Round of 16. Paire was in the midst of a disappointing campaign until two weeks ago when, out of nowhere, he lifted the Marrakech singles trophy. Additionally, the Frenchman should hold slight mental edge over the Spaniard after taking five sets in a row. Nevertheless, Paire is hard to trust in this scenario as long as Carreño is fully fit.
Prediction: Carreño Busta in 3
Denis Shapovalov vs Christian Garin
Head to Head: Shapovalov 1-0 Garin
Sure, I predicted Garin would crash out in the first round, but I love this matchup for the Chilean. The former Boys’ French Open champion proved his resilience against a dangerous Martin Klizan and his consistency will be a nightmare for Shapovalov on the slow Catalan clay. Don’t let the 2018 Madrid semifinal run fool you: the 20-year-old Canadian has a long ways to go on the dirt. In fact, his clay-specific ELO Rating stands almost 100 points lower than Garin’s. Unless Shapovalov catches fire for extended stretches, it’s tough to envision him advancing to the Round of 16.
Prediction: Garin in 2
Rafael Nadal vs Leonardo Mayer
Head to Head: Nadal 6-0 Mayer
Don’t let his loss against Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo distract you from the fact that Nadal is still head and shoulders above the field on clay. Every player at this level is insanely good at tennis. The mercurial Italian perfectly executed his game plan en route to a 6/4 6/2 win. That’s it. Stop the nonsense “Rafa should retire” talk. The 17-time Major titlist also lost an unexpected clay match to Horacio Zeballos in Viña del Mar 2013 and everyone knows what happened throughout the rest of the season.
Mayer barely got by against the struggling Marius Copil a week after losing versus the raw Alexei Popyrin in Monaco. The Argentinian poses no serious threat to the home favorite.
Prediction: Nadal in 2
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