Pouille Leads First Budapest Field; Murray, Nadal In Barcelona
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
Clay Circuit Continues in Barcelona, Budapest: The second week of the European clay-court circuit continues with the fifth 500-level tournament of the season in Barcelona and the first ever ATP World Tour tournament in Budapest. World No. 1 Andy Murray took a wild card into Barcelona and is the top seed while Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Lucas Pouille is the top seed in Budapest.
Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (Barcelona): The Top 10 trio of World No. 1 Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are the top seeds in the 48-player field at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, the oldest tennis club in Spain. This is the 65th edition of the tournament.
Overall 11 of the Top 30 are in the field. No. 2 seed and 2014 champion Kei Nishikori withdrew due to a wrist injury. There are two former titleholders back: reigning and nine-time champion Nadal, and 2004 winner Tommy Robredo.
David Ferrer is a four-time runner-up – 2008-09, ’11-12, losing to Nadal each time. There have been 11 all-Spanish finals in the Open Era, including seven of the past 12 years (all involving Nadal).
Spaniards Dominate on Home Soil: Since 2003 Spaniards have won 12 of the past 14 Barcelona titles, with the only exception Nishikori in 2014-15. In addition to Nadal’s nine titles, Fernando Verdasco (2010), Tommy Robredo (2004) and Carlos Moya (2003) have lifted the champion’s trophy.
There are 11 Spaniards in the main draw. Four of the top 10 seeds are Spaniards, led by No. 3 Nadal, No. 6 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 7 Pablo Carreno Busta and No. 10 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who is coming off his first Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo and will debut at a career-high No. 19 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. Besides Ferrer’s four runner-up finishes, wild card Robredo won the 2004 title and Nicolas Almagro was a finalist in 2013.
Murray Back in Barca: Murray, who accepted a wild card, returns to Barcelona for the first time since 2012 when he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Raonic). This is Murray’s fifth tournament appearance (3-4 record). In 2005, he made his ATP World Tour debut as a wild card ranked No. 379 and lost to Jan Hernych 36 64 64 in the first round.
Murray made his clay-court season debut in Monte-Carlo and lost in the third round to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three sets affer holding a 4-0 third set lead. Murray is one win away from 100 in his career on clay (99-42). Since 2015 he is 36-5 on clay after compiling a 63-37 record from 2005-14.
Rafa Eyes Another 10: Nine-time champion Nadal has a 48-3 record in Barcelona, and he’s looking to win his 10th tournament title for a second time. On Sunday he won his 10th Monte-Carlo title (d. Ramos-Vinolas). Last year he defeated Nishikori in the final. His 41-match winning streak in Barca came to an end in the 2014 quarter-finals (l. to Almagro).
Rafa’s Most Match Wins By Tournament: Not only is Nadal trying to win his 10th Barcelona title, he is two match wins away from reaching 50 in his fifth different event:
Tournament Wins Titles
Roland Garros 72 (9) 2005-08, 2010-14
Monte-Carlo 63 (10) 2005-12, 2016-17
Australian Open 51 (1) 2009
Indian Wells 50 (3) 2007, 2009, 2013
Rome 49 (7) 2005-07, 2009-10, 2012-13
Barcelona 48 (9) 2005-09, 2011-13, 2016
US Open 46 (2) 2010, 2013
April Title Month: Nadal’s most productive month is April, with 18 of his 70 career titles followed by May (12), June (11) and July (7). Eight of those April titles have come in Barcelona (May in 2008). In 2014, Nadal’s streak of 83 straight match wins on clay in the month of April ended with his quarter-final loss to Ferrer in Monte-Carlo.
Nadal comes in with a 24-5 match record on the season, and he won his 70th career title in Monte-Carlo. He also has three runner-up showings: Australian Open (l. to Federer), Acapulco (l. to Querrey) and Miami (l. to Federer).
This was the sixth time since 2008 Nadal entered Monte-Carlo without an ATP World Tour title on the season, and for the sixth time he came away with the title. The years he captured his first title of the year in Monte-Carlo: 2008, 2010-11-12 and 2016-17. Nadal has the best clay-court winning percentage (.916) in the Open Era with a 370-34 record.
King of Clay: Nadal is the Open Era (since 1968) clay court titles leader:
1) Rafael Nadal 50
2) Guillermo Vilas 49
3) Thomas Muster 40
Goffin Back in Top 10: No. 5 seed David Goffin, who is coming off his third career Masters 1000 semi-final in Monte-Carlo, where he beat No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, is back in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 10. Goffin became the first Belgian man in the Top 10 on 20 February after his runner-up in Rotterdam.
His 22 match wins (22-8) is second on the ATP World Tour this season behind Nadal (24-5). This is Goffin’s second appearance in Barcelona. In 2012, he qualified and lost in the first round.
Ferrer Eyes 700 Club: Four-time finalist David Ferrer is four match wins away from becoming the 13th player in the Open Era to register 700 career match wins. Ferrer returns to the ATP World Tour after being sidelined with an Achilles injury. The 34-year-old Spaniard has not played since a second-round loss in Miami last month.
Ferrer is 3-6 this season (0-2 on clay) with his best result the third round at the Australian Open. Ferrer, who is 28-13 in Barcelona, was a finalist in 2008-09, ’11-12.
Gasquet Returns: No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet returns to the ATP World Tour for the first time since reaching the semi-finals in Marseille on 25 February (l. to Pouille). Gasquet underwent appendicitis surgery in early March and withdrew from Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo.
Gasquet is 10-4 in 2017 with his best result a runner-up in Montpellier (l. to A. Zverev). He is playing in Barca for the first time since 2011 (3R).
#NextGenATP Stars: There are four #NextGenATP players in the main draw, led by No. 20-ranked Alexander Zverev. Here’s a look at the talented 21 & under group:
Strong Doubles Field: The top seeds are Australian Open champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers, and they are No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings. In last year’s final, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan defeated Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers 75 75. The other seeds: No. 2 Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, No. 3 Ivan Dodig and Granollers and No. 4 Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez, who reached the final in Monte-Carlo. Unseeded Rohan Bopanna and Cuevas won the Monte-Carlo title, and they face Kontinen/Peers in the first round.
Ferrero Out of Retirement: Former World No. 1 and 2001 Barca champion Juan Carlos Ferrero is a wild card in doubles (w/Carreno Busta). They play Matkowski/Nestor in the first round. Ferrero’s last tournament came in 2012 Valencia (w/Ferrer) where they reached the semi-finals, his best career doubles result.
Gazprom Hungarian Open (Budapest): For the first time in the history of the ATP World Tour, Hungary is hosting a tournament, the Gazprom Hungarian Open. There are 12 of the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the 28-player field.
Frenchman Lucas Pouille is the top seed for the first time in an ATP World Tour tournament. The other seeds: No. 2 Ivo Karlovic, No. 3 wild card Fabio Fognini, No. 4 Fernando Verdasco, No. 5 Gilles Simon, No. 6 Paolo Lorenzi, No. 7 Viktor Troicki and No. 8 Diego Schwartzman.
Pouille Top Seed: Pouille enters Budapest after reaching his second career Masters 1000 semi-final in Monte-Carlo (l. to Ramos-Vinolas). The 23-year-old Frenchman was voted the ATP World Tour Most Improved Player of the Year in 2016 after climbing from No. 78 to No. 15 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
After his semi-final run in Monte-Carlo, Pouille will be ranked a career-high No. 14. In February, he reached the final in Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and he followed with a semi-final in Dubai (l. to eventual champion Murray). He has a 13-8 match record on the season.
#NextGenATP Stars: Two of the top three #NextGenATP players in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan standings are in the draw with No. 2 Borna Coric of Croatia and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev of Russia. They are looking to qualify for the prestigious #NextGenATP Finals in Milan.
The 20-year-old Coric won his maiden ATP World Tour title in Marrakech on 16 April, defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in a three-set battle and saving five match points. Medvedev opened the season by reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Chennai (l. to Bautista Agut). He also advanced to the quarter-finals in Montpellier (l. to Tsonga) and Marseille (l. to Pouile).
Schwartzman on the Rise: No. 8 seed Schwartzman is coming off his best career Masters 1000 result in Monte-Carlo, where he reached the quarter-finals, losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal 64 64. The 24-year-old Argentine is expected to climb to a career-high No. 34 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
In February he advanced to back-to-back quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Thiem) and Sao Paulo (l. to Cuevas), both eventual champions. Last year he won his first ATP World Tour title in Istanbul (d. Dimitrov).
Hungarian Hopes: The No. 1 Hungarian is 25-year-old Marton Fucsovics, who is a wild card entry. He is ranked No. 150, and he reached a career-high No. 135 on 13 October 2014.
He was the No. 1 junior in the world in July 2010. This is his first ATP World Tour main draw in 2017. He is 8-4 on the ATP Challenger Tour and his best result was a runner-up in Budapest in February (l. to J. Melzer). His last tour-level main draw was at the 2016 US Open where he qualified (l. to Almagro in 1R). His last ATP World Tour match win came in 2016 Barcelona as a qualifier (d. Gulbis, l. to Troicki).
Doubles Field: The doubles draw is led by: top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. The other seeds: No. 2 Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi, No. 3 Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah and No. 4 Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic.