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Rafael Nadal heads Barcelona Open field as Spanish government respond to coronavirus

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal will be aiming to win a record-extending 12th title at the Barcelona Open.

Rafael Nadal will lead a world-class field at the Barcelona Open next month after the player list for the event was revealed. Nadal has enjoyed unprecedented success at the ATP 500 tournament, winning it 11 times.

But in 2019, Nadal arrived in Barcelona low on confidence has scrapped his way through to the semi-finals where he was ultimately beaten by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

Thiem also returns to the tournament to defend his title, with some observers tipping him to supplant Nadal and win the French Open, which starts in May.

Nadal and Thiem are joined by four other members of the world’s top 10 at present.

Rafael Nadal dimple

US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini and Belgian David Goffin are also set to play at the event.

There’s also five members of the NextGen due to participate in Felix Auger-Aliassime, Miomir Kecmanovic, Denis Shapovalov, Thiago Seyboth and Corentin Moutet.

And there is also a place for big-hitting South African Kevin Anderson, who is hoping to play following knee surgery next month.

But amid the ongoing global coronavirus crisis, there are doubts the Barcelona Open will take place.

In tennis, the BNP Paribas Open was cancelled on Sunday just days before the main draw was due to begin.

The Miami Open remains scheduled to start later this month but with the number of cases rising in Florida, that tournament could also be postponed.

Rafael Nadal holds

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi attempted to send a reassuring message on Monday saying: “While we regret that the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will not take place, the ATP Tour calendar beyond Indian Wells remains as status quo.

“We continue to monitor the situation daily, working closely with our player and tournament members with the understanding that direction must be taken from local public health authorities.

“We are committed to exploring all options for the operation of upcoming tournaments as the health and safety of our players and all other stakeholders remain our top priority. Any further updates will be communicated on ATP platforms.”

Rafael nadal react

But in Spain, all football matches in the next two weeks will be played behind closed doors on government advice.

“For weeks, La Liga has been working on alternative plans in coordination with UEFA in case health authorities decide to suspend any match, creating a plan to play these matches,” the Spanish league said.

The number of coronavirus cases in Spain has trebled to more than 1620 infections.

Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal

Is Rafael Nadal still the favorite for the clay swing? Roger Federer’s record awaits
Rafael Nadal drive

Is Rafael Nadal still the favorite for the clay swing? The Spaniard, champion at the 2020 Mexico Open in Acapulco, could reach Roger Federer’s record at the next edition of the Roland Garros, but this year the competition will be more difficult.

What are the reasons? Novak Djokovic has seemed unbeatable since the beginning of the year. The Serb is determined as Rafa to beat Federer’s Slam record, therefore his march towards Paris will lead him to select and compete on some clay-events which he will want to win, such as in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal shake

The other factor is Dominic Thiem. The Austrian has improved a lot in recent months, especially on hard courts. On clay-courts, he is now a guarantee: two consecutive finals played at the French Open and the feeling that the victory in Paris is around the corner.

And Nadal? The Spaniard is in excellent shape, as we saw in Acapulco. Yet his real season will begin on the clay-courts of the Monte Carlo Tennis Club. Nadal is preparing for the two most important months of his year and, barring particular physical problems, he will be the favorite, even if, compared to the past two seasons, there may be some surprises.

Rafael Nadal smiles

The events at which he remains substantially favored are the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the Barcelona Open, the Mutua Madrid Open, the Italian Open and the French Open. Five tournaments during which Nadal will once again have to demonstrate his supremacy over his direct rivals, who today are Djokovic and Thiem on this surface.

Many argue that Thiem is his rival number one on clay: I say that Djokovic can beat Nadal this year also at Roland Garros if he continues his incredible march. Djokovic more than Thiem will be Nadal’s toughest test during the clay-swing.

Rafael Nadal hair

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