The ATP Barcelona Open approaches the business end of the tournament on Friday, with four fascinating quarterfinal matches taking center stage on Pista Rafa Nadal. Amongst the day’s most intriguing matches is the second meeting between Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev. With both players in good form, this has the potential to be one of the most entertaining matches of the year. Let’s look at Friday’s quarterfinals.
ATP Barcelona Open Quarterfinals Predictions
Andrey Rublev vs Jannik Sinner
Head to Head: 1-0 Rublev
Andrey Rublev has not been at his best level this week. The Russian’s third round win over Albert Ramos Vinolas saw an uncharacteristic amount of unforced errors from Rublev’s racket. He has been in blistering form this season, and perhaps the difficult matches this week will only stand him in good stead heading into the rest of the clay season. At his best, Rublev has the firepower to hit through anyone, even in heavy clay court conditions.
Currently, Jannik Sinner is arguably the most exciting player to watch on the ATP Tour. The Italian has been on a meteoric rise up the ATP Rankings since winning the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan in 2019. The Italian won back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Sofia at the end of last season and the Great Ocean Road Open before the Australian Open, and reached the final in Miami. Despite losing to Novak Djokovic last week in Monte Carlo, Sinner put in a good performance, showcasing his movement and shot-making ability. The main areas of his game to improve are hitting his spots more regularly on his serve and playing the big points in matches better. He is only 19 and is surely at the beginning of a long career.
I am convinced that this will go to three sets, but I think Sinner is in better form this week, having not dropped a set in his victories over Egor Gerasimov and Roberto Bautista Agut. I think the Italian will win in three sets.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head to Head: 3-2 Tsitsipas
Felix Auger-Aliassime has recorded two impressive victories this week over Lorenzo Musetti and Denis Shapovalov. The twenty-year-old has matched his best result this season, having also reached the quarterfinals of Acapulco. After a disappointing defeat to Cristian Garin last week in Monte Carlo, Auger-Aliassime has finally got his clay court season up and running in Barcelona. Given that he reached his first ATP final on the surface at the 2019 Rio Open, the Canadian is clearly a strong clay court player. As his quest for a first ATP title continues, it would not surprise me if he won his first title on clay.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was troubled by Alex De Minaur despite getting the straight sets win. The Greek was actually a break down in the second set. However, he quickly upped his level, dictating the rallies from the back of the court. Tsitsipas exposed the Australian’s lack of a major weapon, and even though he was not at his vintage best, it was still an impressive win for the Greek. After his win in Monte Carlo his week, Tsitsipas has to be considered one of the main contenders at Roland Garros.
Given the close head to head and that both players are coming into the match in decent form, I expect this to go to three sets, with the Greek getting the win, due to being more confident in the pressure moments.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 3
Pablo Carreno Busta vs Diego Schwartzman
Head to Head: 1-1
Pablo Carreno Busta has been having a good clay court season, winning the Andalucia Open earlier this month and put in a strong showing in Monte Carlo, reaching the third round. The Spaniard has a consistent all-court game and is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the Top 20. Despite lacking huge firepower, the Spaniard is able to wear down opponents with consistency from the back of the court–similar in some ways to his fellow countryman Roberto Bautista Agut.
Diego Schwartzman has a similar game style to Carreno Busta. However, the Argentine has superior movement and return of serve. Schwartzman has already won a clay court title this season at the Argentina Open and showed great character in his opening round win over Francis Tiafoe when staring down the barrel of a straight sets defeat before turning the match around.
I think this is a pretty even match up. However, I think that the Argentine is the superior clay court player and will win in three sets.
Prediction: Schwartzman in 3
Rafael Nadal vs Cameron Norrie
Head to Head: 1-0 Nadal
Rafael Nadal won involved in another engrossing three set match in the third round. After seemingly cruising to victory, having taken the first set 6-0, with the Spaniard brutally punishing Nishikori’s second serve. However, as Nadal’s first serve percentage fell, the Japanese player upped his level, winning the second set 6-2, saving break points in his opening serve game of the set. However, Nishikori could not take advantage of multiple break point opportunities in the third set, and Nadal managed to win. Despite not being at his best, I get the feeling that with every match he wins, Nadal’s confidence will grow and he will soon find his best clay court game.
Cameron Norrie has quietly worked his way through the draw this week, beating Salvatore Caruso in the opening round for the loss of only three games, before recording a notable three set victory over Karen Khachanov in the second round. With Goffin’s retirement in the second set of his third round match, the Brit will finally get the chance to play on Pista Rafa Nadal this week. He is arguably playing the best tennis of his career, on the cusp of the world’s top 50, and I think he has a real chance to better his career high ranking of #41 if he can continue this rich vein of form.
Norrie’s heavy use of topspin on his forehand side is effective on clay. However, he does not possess any real consistent firepower or weapon in his game that can seriously hurt Nadal. I think the Spaniard will produce his best performance of the week, having already been properly tested and match hardened, and I think he will win in straight sets.
Prediction: Nadal in 2
Main Photo from Getty.