Nadal, again: It doesn’t get much more anticlimactic than Rafael Nadal winning Barcelona. In his five matches, he lost 21 games; he lost more than two games in only three of his ten sets.
I’m not sure whether David Ferrer will ever manage to beat Nadal on clay–based on the last two weeks, it’s not going to happen anytime soon–but Ferrer does make things interesting. The outcome is never really in doubt, but Ferrer is one of the few guys (Andy Murray is another, I’m sure Novak Djokovic will add himself to the list soon) who can challenge Nadal in rallies on clay. Ferrer even managed to string together a few strong points and break serve in the second set yesterday.
I’m standing behind my earlier prediction that Nadal will lose a match on clay, but I’m having a hard time visualizing it.
Rankings: By reaching the semifinals in Barcelona, Nicholas Almagro reached the top 10 for the first time, displacing Mardy Fish. Ivan Dodig, the other semifinal loser this week, also reached a career high, rising 12 places to #44.
The winner at the Napoli challenger was Thomas Schoorel, who gained 9 places to hit #117, a second career high in as many weeks. In Santos, Joao Souza won the title, jumping 27 spots to #148.
This week’s loser is Fernando Verdasco, who didn’t even try to defend his title in Barcelona. He falls three places to #15. Last year’s finalist, Robin Soderling, stays at #5 but loses 245 points, roughly half of his lead over #6 Ferrer.
Belgrade: This week there are three ATP 250s, and we’re just finishing up qualifying in all of them. The Belgrade field is headlined by Serbian heroes Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, but the most noteworthy man in the draw is Fernando Gonzalez. Freddy hasn’t played since the U.S. Open, and he hasn’t won a match since the first round of last year’s French. He’ll face qualifier Martin Klizan in the first round.
Estoril: The tournament in Portugal probably features the strongest draw of this week’s three events. Soderling and Verdasco anchor the top and bottom of the draw, respectively, while Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro are among the remaining seeds. Verdasco faces a potentially dangerous second-round draw in Federico Gil, who reached the quarters in Monte Carlo.
Also of note: HT.com favorite Flavio Cipolla (he’s even smaller than Simone Vagnozzi!) qualified for the main draw with a decisive 6-0 6-3 victory over Pablo Carreno-Busta. World #488 Pedro Sousa, from Portugal, also qualified, beating top seed Albert Ramos in three sets. Be careful: Also in the main draw is Portuguese wildcard Joao Sousa, who should not be confused with the Brazilian Joao Souza, winner in Santos last week.
Munich: This event is the only one this week without a top-10 player. Still, the quality of play may be a bit higher than in Belgrade, with Mikhail Youhzny, Marin Cilic, and Stanislas Wawrinka in the field.
Among the qualifiers are Robert Farah, who defeated Dmitri Tursunov in the second round of qualifying, and 20-year-old Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, who beat both Bjorn Phau and Martin Fischer to reach the main draw. Also worth mentioning is fast-rising Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who beat both Federico del Bonis and Paul Capdeville before losing a three-setter in the qualifying round to Julian Reister.
It may be a rest week for some of the top players, but there’s more than enough to keep us busy until the next Masters Series event. See you tomorrow!