ATP Barcelona preview and predictions: Nadal seeks 12th title against loaded field
Photo: Alex Caparros

The clay court season on the ATP Tour continues with the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The man to beat, as is the case on just about every tournament he enters on the red dirt, is Rafael Nadal, who seeks to make it a dozen titles in the Catalan.

Absent are defending champion Dominic Thiem as well as Casper Ruud, seeded 15th, but forced to withdraw after the draw came out, but the field still looks stacked.

First quarter

Nadal suffered a shock loss to Andrey Rublev at last week's Monte Carlo Rolex Masters and he'll look to rebound against either Ilya Ivashka or Tallon Griekspoor, both qualifiers after a first round bye. 13th seed Cristian Garin also has a bye and could face two-time Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori if he gets past Guido Pella.

Karen Khachanov is seeded 12th and will play either Cameron Norrie or Salvatore Caruso while eighth seed David Goffin comes in with some momentum following a quarterfinal showing last week. He gets the winner of Sumit Nagal a qualifier, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Prediction: Nadal def. Khachanov

Second quarter

Fourth seed Diego Schwartzman will look to rebound after an early exit in Monte Carlo against either Spanish wild card Carlos Alcaraz or Frances Tiafoe while 16th seed Dan Evans reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal last week. He plays either Dominik Koepfer or Corentin Moutet after a first-round bye.

In what looks to be a very tough section, ninth seed Fabio Fognini will look to ease into the tournament against a qualifier, Bernabe Zapata Miralles or Andrey Kuznetsov while sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, champion in Marbella, faces either Jordan Thompson or Richard Gasquet.

Prediction: Fognini def. Schwartzman

Third quarter

Another section of the draw that looks to be competitive is the one headed by fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut who will play either Gilles Simon or countryman Pablo Andujar while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga returns to the dirt against Egor Gerasimov with the winner facing 11th seed Jannik Sinner.

Rublev carried the momentum of his win over Nadal all the way to the Monte Carlo final and after accepting a late wild card here, the third seed will play Benoit Paire or lucky loser Federico Gaio. Albert Ramos-Vinolas faces Danish qualifier Holger Rune with the winner getting 17th seed Adrian Mannarino.

Prediction: Rublev def. Sinner

Fourth quarter

The Canadian young guns are both in this section of the draw. Seventh seed Denis Shapovalov starts with either Jeremy Chardy or Nikoloz Basilashvili while tenth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime plays Feliciano Lopez or Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti granted a wild card.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Rublev to win his first Masters title and he looks to be in a comfortable section of the draw as he opens up with Thiago Monteiro or wild card Jaume Munar. 14th seed Alex de Minaur squares off with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Alexander Bublik after a first-round bye.

Prediction: Tsitsipas def. Auger-Aliassime


Nadal def. Fognini, Tsitsipas def. Rublev


Nadal def. Tsitsipas