We are now heading into the second week of tennis’s clay court season. The Barcelona Open should offer significant intrigue as players prepare for the French Open in late May. Here are five interesting storylines.
5) Two Americans come away with first round wins.
You do not always equate American success in tennis with the clay court season. However on Monday in first round action, Mackenzie McDonald of the United States beat Hugo Grenier of France 6-7, 6-1, 7-6, and Brandon Nakashima of the United States beat Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain, 7-6, 6-3.
4) Casper Ruud enters event as no. 2 seed.
Fresh off his finals appearance in Miami earlier this month, Norway’s Casper Ruud enters the Barcelona Open as the number two seed. His second round opponent will be Nakashima.
3) A new champion.
With Rafael Nadal not in the field due to a rib injury, we will have a new Barcelona Open champion in 2022. Nadal was a 12-time champion, having won his first Barcelona Open champion in 2005. Other former champions not in the field since Nadal won 18 years ago are Fernando Verdasco of Spain, Kei Nishikori of Japan, and Dominic Thiem of Austria.
2) Retirement of Tommy Robredo.
On Monday, Tommy Robredo of Spain played his final ATP match in the first round of the Barcelona Open, as he lost 6-1, 6-1 to Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Robredo entered the tournament as a wildcard, while Zapata Miralles needed to qualify. Robredo won the 2004 Barcelona Open, where he beat Gaston Gaudio of Argentina in five sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. This was the third last year that the Barcelona Open final was a best of five, as it went to a best of three, starting in 2007. Robredo won 12 career titles and reached as high as fifth in the world in 2006.
1) Stefanos Tsitsipas is no.1 seed and has momentum.
The biggest beneficiary this week with the absence of Nadal will be Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Athens native will be looking for his first Barcelona Open title after winning his second straight Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday. There he beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain in the final, 6-3, 7-6. Tsitsipas currently has the fourth best odds of winning the French Open at +550 according to betonline.ag.