A look around the ATP including Rafael Nadal and the Bryan twins reigning victorious
Rafa Reigns in Barcelona
Rafael Nadal capped an impressive return to form with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Kei Nishikori in the Barcelona Open finals on Sunday.
With the win, Nadal snapped a two-year streak without winning the Barcelona crown. The title marked Nadal’s ninth win in Barcelona and 49th clay title overall, tying him with Guillermo Vilas. Nadal has long been regarded as the best clay court player of all time, and this win adds to the evidence of Nadal’s dominance.
Nadal has had several difficult seasons, suffering upsets in the early rounds of Slams and struggling with recurring injuries to his knees. With so much attention on players such as Novak Djokovic, Nadal’s resurgence comes as somewhat of a surprise. Nadal has not beaten Djokovic in two years, but if he maintains this level of play, he could be a significant roadblock for Nole’s attempt to win his first French crown. Though Nadal has struggled with consistency, he has still maintained a top ten ranking. As Jon Wertheim pointed out, he has won the French Open eight more times than anyone else who will be playing. Look for him to make a run, and perhaps win the title, as the season moves toward Paris.
Verdasco Triumphs in Bucharest
Fernando Verdasco won a delayed final on Monday at the ATP event in Bucharest, Romania, beating NextGen star Lucas Pouille. A rare occurrence in professional tennis, the finals for both singles and doubles were pushed to Monday after rain made play impossible on Sunday. Verdasco prevailed eventually by a decisive two-set win, 6-3, 6-2. The two players could scarcely be at two more different stages of their careers: the 32 year-old and former top ten player Verdasco won his seventh title with the victory while Pouille, 22, appeared in his first final. Look for Pouille to make an impact as he grows into his career.
Bryans Win Title 111
Bob and Mike Bryan continued their march toward history by winning their 111th title in Barcelona. The Bryans have the most doubles titles of any player in the Open Era, and have started strongly this clay season—the Barcelona title marked their second this month. The 37-year-old twins are showing no signs of age and are currently fourth in the ATP Doubles Race, an indication of a good season. Look for the twins to make a mark at the French Open, the site where they secured their first Slam title in 2003.
The clay season is already at its halfway point. The ATP heads to three tournaments this week in Istanbul, Munich and Estoril before reuniting the players next week at the Mutua Madrid Open, a Masters 1000 tournament in which the top players are required to compete. After Madrid, the tour heads to another Masters 1000 event in Rome. At that point, only a couple of weeks will remain before the French Open. A single player has yet to establish himself as dominant this clay season, though Nadal seems to be headed in that direction. Look for a player to make his mark before the tour lands in Paris.