ATP Tour: Barcelona Open Banc Sabadel Selected Matches Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We preview two of the biggest matches from the Round of 16 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadel. 

Pablo Carreno Busta 3/10 | Adrian Mannarino 5/2
An intriguing encounter pits the somewhat anachronistic Mannarino against a slightly unconventional Spanish player in the guise of Pablo Carreno Busta. Mannarino’s brand of chipping and slicing from the baseline proved quite a winning formula last season, where he shone particularly on the clay-courts and grass-courts. Players seemed to be somewhat perplexed by his throwback stylistics. But that form, however, has yet to resurface this season. His semi-final appearance at a somewhat weak New York Open is his best showing thus far, and his defeat to Gilles Simon in Monte Carlo last week was troubling. But a hard fought victory over Pablo Cuevas will give him some confidence going into this encounter.

Busta is certainly not your atypical Spanish clay-court aficionado. A runner-up at last year’s US Open, Busta seems to be far more comfortable on the quicker courts than the clay. He never won a match in the South American clay court swing, losing early in Rio, Buenos Aires and Quito. He is returning to action following a brilliant run to the semi-finals in the Miami Masters, once again profiting off the quicker surfaces. He also ran deep in Melbourne, reaching the final 16 and pushing Marin Cilic all the way. So Busta clearly goes in as favourite following that week in Miami, but this one could have some life in it yet.

The two have never met, and Busta may grow frustrated at the amount of off-speed shot-making that Mannarino deals in. Mannarino is a far more nuanced clay-court exponent and has a real chance of pulling off a considerable shock here.

David Goffin 8/10 | Karen Khachanov 19/20
David Goffin actually performed better in Monte Carlo than I would have envisaged, beating Tsitsipas and Bautista Agut before falling Grigor Dimitrov. Goffin has had a typically dogged season, with semi-final appearances in Rotterdam and Montpellier. He easily disposed of Granollers in the opening round here and will be looking to shake the impression of being a player who flatters to deceive. He is clearly more adept on the harder courts-summed up perfectly by that Herculean run at the ATP World Tour Finals last year- but he was more impressive last week than I anticipated.

21 year-old Khachanov is at the vanguard of a new wave of Russian tennis talent. He beat Simon and Kokkinakas in straight sets in Monte Carlo before succumbing to the behemoth that is Rafa Nadal. He has had an encouraging year thus far, winning his second ATP title with that brilliant victory in Marseille. He beat the likes of Lucas Pouille and Tomas Berdych in a performance that really illuminated the vast talent that this Russian right hander possesses. But he will be up against it here, going up against a player to whom he relinquishes the head-to-head advantage.

Goffin leads the head-to-head 3-1, already accounting for the young Russian in Montpellier earlier this season. But there is a twist to these statistics, as Khachanov’s only victory over the pugnacious Belgian came in this very event last season. On that basis alone I think that it’s worth investing some money in the Russian. 

Written by Damien Kayat for

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