Smooth Sailing for Nadal in Barcelona
After last week’s ugly but thrilling final in Monte Carlo, in which Stanislas Wawrinka was able to temper Roger Federer’s dominance over him in their head-to-head record (Federer leads 13-2), this week’s tournaments in Barcelona and Bucharest have been comparatively uneventful. Rafael Nadal is aiming for nine straight Barcelona titles, and enters the quarterfinals having won his first two matches easily. His fellow quarterfinalists, including Japan’s Kei Nishikori and both Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco of Spain, are formidable players, but pose little threat to Nadal’s seemingly eternal reign in Spain. His toughest competition, David Ferrer, was ousted by unheralded Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili, less than a week after beating Nadal in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals.
Over in Bucharest, Romania, players are competing for just half the number of ranking points that are available in Barcelona. Still, top seed Grigor Dimitrov and #3 seed Gael Monfils are still alive in the tournament, and are slated to meet in the semifinals, should they advance that far.
All kinds of top-ranked WTA players are competing in Stuttgart, Germany. While Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are noticeably absent, stars Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova both won their second-round matches Thursday. Sharapova is ranked a respectable 9th in the world, but she’s not likely to be satisfied with a merely respectable ranking. She’s looking to climb the ladder after a rough start to the year.
Stay tuned for more updates on these tournaments as the week progresses.