Barcelona Open Quarterfinal Predictions Including Rafael Nadal vs Jan-Lennard Struff

The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell is rapidly approaching the business end of the tournament. Perhaps surprisingly, two lucky losers have made it to the last eight. But will they be able to extend their improbable runs or will they run in to trouble amongst the big guns?

ATP Barcelona Quarterfinal Predictions

Daniil Medvedev vs Nicolas Jarry

Head-to-head: Medvedev 1-0 Jarry

Lucky loser Jarry’s motto coming into this match has to be ‘life on the edge’. The Chilean has won four extremely close matches in Barcelona, losing more than half of the points in both his qualifying win over top junior Chun-Hsin Tseng and his second-round victory over former-world #3 Grigor Dimitrov. But he still finds himself in the quarterfinals. It’s a run few would have predicted when he lost to a declining Marcel Granollers in the final round of qualifying. But he has taken full advantage of his second chance, showing steely nerves to win final set tiebreaks against Alexander Zverev and then Dimitrov.

The reason he has advanced so far is that, despite committing a myriad of unforced errors day in and day out, Jarry has been coming up big in clutch situations. But Tennis Abstract’s ELO Rating deems the defensively minded Medvedev to be the fourth best player on tour, with only the great Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer having made better starts to the year. The Russian has taken a massive leap forward this season and his consistency from the back of the court should allow him to wear down the boom-or-bust approach of Jarry.

Prediction: Medvedev in two
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Kei Nishikori vs Roberto Carballes Baena

Head-to-head: first meeting

What a week it has been for the Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena. He was dealt a complicated qualifying draw, coming up against world #25 Diego Schwartzman, who signed up for the tournament too late for the direct entry into the main draw his ranking would usually grant, in the final round. Despite a valiant effort, Carballes Baena fell to the Argentine in straight sets, 4-6 4-6. But he gained entry to the main draw as a lucky loser when Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini withdrew.

The 26-year-old took advantage by recovering from a set down against the fast rising German prospect Nicola Kuhn, before obtaining an impressive victory over fellow clay-court specialist Christian Garín, recently the champion in Houston. However, he may lack the weapons to bother Nishikori, who has looked very sharp so far this week after a disappointing few months. The Japanese star was particularly impressive in demolishing Felix Auger-Aliassime in the previous round and has an extra gear from the baseline.

Prediction: Nishikori in two
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Dominic Thiem vs Guido Pella

Head-to-head: Thiem 2-2 Pella

If you could only watch one match on Friday, this would surely be the best choice. Thiem and Pella have split a pair of clay-court meetings and, although Thiem is by far the more accomplished player, Pella is a man in form. Indeed, the Argentine has a 9-1 record in his last 10 matches on clay, with the sole loss coming at the hands of the great Nadal in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals. Thiem’s more explosive game could pose Pella some real problems, but if the Austrian has a bad day at the office, he will find Pella an unforgiving foe.

That will be concerning for the Indian Wells champion, who has not looked his usual self on a clay court so far this year, although his 7-5 6-1 victory over Spaniard Jaume Munar was undeniably impressive. Last year, Thiem found his progress at the Barcelona Open brought to an abrupt halt by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters. Will those ghosts come back to haunt Thiem? Pella may be a very different player to the Greek, but don’t rule it out.

Prediction: Pella in three
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Rafael Nadal vs Jan-Lennard Struff

Head-to-head: first meeting

This match should present an entertaining clash of styles. Expect Nadal to deploy his tried and tested tactics of heavy topspin, high margins, sharp angles, timely drop shots and effective volleys. Tactics that, despite their predictably, have proven astonishingly difficult to counter over the years. In the last round, the wily David Ferrer, set to retire next month at the Madrid Open, could find no answer, losing 3-6 3-6 to his countryman despite delivering a fine performance.

Struff will present the defending champion with a rather different challenge. The big German plays a much riskier style of tennis, reliant on delivering devastating early strikes. He displayed that aggressive mindset in upsetting 2018 finalist Tsitsipas, bulldozing the Greek’s serve with early returns taken well-inside the baseline. Struff, 6’5” inches tall,  stands no chance of out-grinding the king of clay. Surely his only realistic path to victory would be to copy the approach that to took Robin Soderling to victory at Roland Garros a decade ago: going for broke from the outset. However, though that may allow him to trouble Nadal for a while, it is hardly likely to be prove sustainable over the course of the match.

Prediction: Nadal in two

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