Last Saturday, the Nadal was defeated in straight sets by world no.1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters. However, the Spaniard insisted he was pleased by his progress after a poor start at the beginning of the year due to injury
"For me, it's a very positive week. The most positive week of the season, without any doubt," said Nadal.
"If I am able to keep doing that in the next tournament in Barcelona, and I have a tough draw, I will say that I am very well again."
The 8-time champion is seeded second after defending champion Kei Nishikori who ended a nine-year streak by Nadal in 2014. Other players who will be playing in Barcelona are David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Feliciano Lopez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ernests Gulbis. However, the odds are high that Nishikori will give Nadal a run for the money.
Image via tennisplanet.me
The world no. 4, reigning champion and top seed Kei Nishikori makes his fifth straight appearance in Barcelona with a 10-3 career tournament record. A year ago Nishikori entered the Barcelona tournament ranked no. 17 and he only dropped one set en route to his first career ATP World Tour clay court title. This season Nishikori is 21-5 with a title in Memphis. This is the fifth time in Nishikori’s career he is the top seed in an ATP tournament. He has quite an outstanding 16-1 record as the top seed with his only loss to Ferrer in the Acapulco final. Nishikori was absent from the recent Monte Carlo Masters.
Image via Skysports
Nadal is aiming for the ninth title here. He comes into Barcelona with a brilliant 42-2 career tournament record. His 41-match winning streak in Barcelona came to an end after beaten by fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals last year. Eight of Nadal’s titles came in the past 10 years (he did not play in 2010). This is the fourth time Nadal is not the top seed i.e. in the year 2013, 2005 and 2003. This is going to be an interesting tournament that could make or break Nadal in the subsequent clay court tournaments before the French Open.