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ATP 2019 Barcelona Open Odds & Picks: The Reign Of The Men From Spain

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in Tennis

Apr 21, 2019 · 5:27 PM PDT

Kei Nishikori return
Japan's Kei Nishikori is the only non-Spaniard to win the Barcelona Open in the last 16 years. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
  • Clay court season continues on the ATP with the Barcelona Open
  • 14 of the last 16 winners of the tournament were Spaniards
  • Japan’s Kei Nishikori (2014-15) is the only player to break through this Spanish dominance

The rain in Spain may mainly fall on the plain but the reign of Spain when it comes to the Barcelona Open is equally centralized.

The next stop during the clay-court portion of the ATP Tour, Spain’s second-largest men’s tennis event after the Madrid Open, has been dominated by Spaniards.

Since 2003, 14 of the last 16 Barcelona Open men’s singles champions were Spanish players. Carlos Moya won in 2003, followed by Tommy Robredo in 2004. Rafael Nadal, the world’s best clay-court player, owns 11 titles here – 2005-09, 2011-13 and 2016-18. Fernando Verdasco won in 2010.

2019 Barcelona Open Men’s Singles Odds

Player Odds
Rafael Nadal -165
Dominic Thiem +600
Alexander Zverev +800
Daniil Medvedev +1800
Fabio Fognini +2200
Kei Nishikori +2200
Stefanos Tsitsipas +2500
Karen Khachanov +3300
David Goffin +4000
Denis Shapovalov +5000
Gilles Simon +5000

*Odds taken on 04/21/19. Follow the link in the table above for a complete list of all players

Only Japan’s Kei Nishikori, with consecutive titles in 2014-15, has broken through this Spanish dominance.

Spanish Flying In Barcelona

Spanish players have won a leading 24 titles in this event, and you’d be wise to heed the home-court advantage to Spain’s tennis stars when handicapping the tournament.

Since 1997, there’s been just one Barcelona Open men’s singles final that hasn’t featured at least one Spanish player. That was in 2014, when Nishikori defeated Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-2, 6-2 for the title.

In that span of time, there have been nine all-Spanish finals – Albert Costa, currently the tournament director, over Albert Portas in 1997, Juan Carlos Ferrero over Carlos Moya in 2001, Nadal over Ferrero in 2005, and Nadal over Robredo in 2006.

Nadal defeated David Ferrer in the 2008-09 and 2011-12 finals. Nadal also bettered Nicolas Almagro for the 2013 title.

Of the last 22 Barcelona Open men’s singles finals, 30 of 44 participants were from Spain. That works out to 68.18%.

It’s Clay, So Yeah, There’s Rafa

When the surface is clay you can be sure that Nadal will surface as the favorite. On the other hand, he was just stopped by Italy’s Fabio Fognino in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters, so Nadal isn’t unbeatable on a clay-court surface.

Until he faced Fognino, he hadn’t dropped a set, even rallying from a 5-1 deficit to win this first set of his quarterfinal match with Argentina’s Guido Pella 7-6(7-1).

Nadal’s winning streak of 18 straight matches and 25 consecutive sets at Monte-Carlo also was brought to a halt. He played in 12 finals and won a record 11 titles there.

At Barcelona, Nadal owns tournament records for wins (11) and matches won (58).

Can Kei Be The Guy?

Nishikori has enjoyed a good run of success in Barcelona. He followed up his consecutive titles with a 6-4, 7-5 loss to the Nadal in the 2016 final.

The Japanese star entered the 2017 tournament as the no. 2 seed but was forced to withdraw with a wrist injury. Nishikori retired from his 2018 second-round match with Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after suffering a right calf injury.

Though he’s never beaten Nadal in four head-to-head matches on clay, Nishikori has played the Spanish legend tough on his favorite surface. Besides the 2016 Barcelona Open final, they’ve also clashed in the 2018 Monte-Carlo Masters final and the 2014 Madrid Open final.

Nishikori actually took a set from Nadal in that final, something few of the world’s top players can boast of when facing the Spanish sensation on clay.

Who Might Make A Breakthrough?

The losing finalists from the last two years, Austria’s Dominic Thiem (2017) and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018) are both entered and bear consideration.

Belgium’s David Goffin has been seeded in the top five here the last two years and reached the semifinals last year. World no. 3 Alexander Zverev, just 10-6 this season, will look to right his ship.

This is not a tournament when you should stray too far down the board in search of a price. Nadal won as an eight-seed in 2005. In the 13 tournaments since, Verdasco, no. 5 in 2010, is the highest-seeded player to win.

Normally, that would make it hard to look past Naadal when searching for the winner. But clearly, he isn’t himself. It might be a good time to go off the chalk and look at someone like Thiem.

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