Three ‘top-ten’ debuted today at the Conde de Godó Trophy: the Spaniards Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, who won their respective matches, and the Croatian Marin Cilic, who fell, against the odds, in his second presence in the Catalan capital.
Nadal, eight-time Godó champion and second-seeded champion, began his reconquest of the tournament by taking revenge on his compatriot Nicolás Almagro, who eliminated him in the quarterfinals last year.
He defeated Almagro, 6-3, 6-1, in one hour and 38 minutes. But the match could have lasted much less if both players had not starred in a marathon last game that summed up what the match was: a Nadal without confidence to close the match and an Almagro who chained error after error (he made up to 35 unforced) and that he wasted as many as seven break balls in that game to stay alive.
The fourth player in the world ranking will face Italian Fabio Fognini, 30 in the ATP and who today had to overcome a set against (3-6, 6-4 and 6-1) against the Roland Garros champion in the round of 16 junior, the 17-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev, executioner in the first round of the Spanish Fernando Verdasco.
Nadal and Fognini have met five times, with four wins for the Spaniard and one for the Italian, achieved this year in the semifinals of the Open 500 in Rio de Janeiro.
David Ferrer, eighth racket in the world and third seeded in the tournament, also had a placid debut against his compatriot Albert Montañés, invited by the organization to play his fourteenth Godó, a tournament in which he was a semifinalist in 2004.
The player from Alicante, with very solid tennis from the start, defeated the Catalan 6-2, 6-3, in one hour and twenty-five minutes of play and will face the young Elias Ymer in the round of 16.
The Swedish tennis player took the duel of young world tennis talents against the Australian Nick Kyrgios, in the longest and most intense match of the day (2-6, 7-5 and 7-6 after almost two and a half hours of play) .
This will be the first time that the 19-year-old Ymer has faced the four-time Godó finalist and also one of the top ten players in the ATP rankings.
The cross of the day among the ‘top-ten’ of the Barcelona open went to Marin Cilic, ninth racket in the world and fourth seeded who lost, by a double 6-4, against the Dominican Víctor Estrella, another of the revelations of the tournament .
The Croatian, quarterfinalist last year in Barcelona, arrived at the Godó short of preparation after only playing Indian Wells and Monte Carlo, this year, due to a shoulder injury.
In the Monegasque tournament he reached the quarterfinals, but today he could not, in the second round, with the solidity of Estrella, 53 in the world ranking and who at 34 years of age is having his best season as a professional.
On Tuesday, the one from Santiago already got rid of the Austrian Dominic Thiem and tomorrow he will have a new revalidation against the Slovak Martin Klizan, fourteenth seeded and executioner today of the Argentine Juan Mónaco (5-7, 6-0 and 6-3).
Another top seed, the Spanish Feliciano López (5) suffered more than necessary to advance to the third round. ‘Feli’, who disputes his fifteenth Godó with the best ranking of his career, twelfth player in the world, needed to reach the tie-break in the third set (6-2, 5-7 and 7-6) to eliminate the Turkish Marsel Ilhan.
The man from Toledo will face his compatriot Pablo Andújar tomorrow in the round of 16, who today came from behind in his match (2-6, 6-1 and 6-2) against the eleventh-seeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
After resting on Wednesday, the reigning Godó champion and top seed, the Japanese Kei Nishikori, returns to the competition tomorrow to face the Colombian Santiago Giraldo, in what will be a repeat of last year’s final.
Giraldo, fifteenth seeded, today defeated the Portuguese Joao Sousa in three sets (6-3, 3-6 and 6-1) and tomorrow he will try to take revenge on the fifth world racket and qualify for the quarterfinals.
Other heads of series that fell in this second round are the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6), against the Spanish Marcel Granollers (6-4 and 6-2), and the Latvian Ernest Gulbis (8), who let his match against the French Benoit Paire (1-6, 6-2 and 6-3).
Granollers will face the Spanish Tommy Robredo (9), in what will be the second fratricidal duel of the day, while Paire will face the German Philipp Kohlschreiber (12), executioner of the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov (7-6 and 6 -3). EFE