The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell will come to an end on Sunday. The prestigious tournament will crown a first-time champion after Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori both went down in the penultimate round.
ATP Barcelona Final Prediction
Dominic Thiem vs Daniil Medvedev
Dominic Thiem played flawlessly in his semifinal win over Rafael Nadal. The actual scoreline (6-4 6-4) fails to reflect Thiem’s superiority in the contest. The Austrian did not surrender any service games and, according to stats guru Jeff Sackmann, he nearly became the first player since Carlos Moya in Umag 2003! not to concede a single break point on clay against Nadal. Several head-scratching decisions by Thiem in the final game of the duel gave the Manacor native a 0-40 lead and a glimmer of hope. However, the 25-year-old managed to dig himself out of that mini hole and certified his victory with a drop shot.
This marked Thiem’s fourth career win over Nadal, all of them on clay (Buenos Aires’16, Rome ’17 and Madrid ’18 were the others). Only in Argentina was the Austrian capable of parlaying his triumph over Nadal into the champion’s trophy. At the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona, Thiem will seek to collect his 13th tour level title.
Daniil Medvedev continued his breakthrough campaign on clay by means of a 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over Kei Nishikori. It was a tight match with plenty of ups and downs. The Russian, who is being mentored by his countryman Igor Andreev, a former clay specialist, looked out of sorts early in the third set. After surrendering a leadoff break, the Moscow native smashed his racket. However, Nishikori was unable to take advantage of the situation. No player has won more matches than Medvedev (25) in 2019. Additionally, his clay court record for the season improved to 8-1. Oh, and he chugged salt from a container on a changeover!
Prior to the current clay swing, in spite of Medvedev’s stark progress of late, Thiem would be a clear-cut favorite. His game is tailor-made for the surface. Nicolás Massú’s pupil applies a gazillion of RPMs to his groundstrokes and is able to open up the court off both wings with ease. Furthermore, the Austrian looks more confident than ever as a returner.
Contrarily, Medvedev hits one of the flattest backhands on tour. On paper, it should be a weakness on clay. Yet, the Russian is hitting it with such pinpoint accuracy and depth it doesn’t even matter. His forehand, in turn, lacks explosiveness and is more prone to breaking down. Movement wise, Medvedev is running around the court like a gazelle these days, aided by his extra-long legs. It’s really hard to hit through him on slow conditions.
Ultimately, Thiem should benefit from his edge on forehand to forehand exchanges. Big battles are often decided by small details.
Prediction: Thiem in 2