Nadal gets Starace in Round 2
Rafael Nadal is going for his second straight four-peat this week in Barcelona. Last week he accomplished the feat in Monte Carlo, and now he will try to do it again in his native Spain. Nadal has won the title the last three years, defeating Guillermo Canas, Tommy Robredo, and Juan Carlos Ferrero. His arch-nemesis Roger Federer isn’t playing this week so he can rest up for Rome (next week). If Nadal wins this week in Barcelona, he will be going for another four-peat next week in Rome.
Before he can get to any of that, Nadal will face Italian Potito Starace in the second round. Nadal is 2-0 against Starace, including a victory over him last year at Barcelona.
If we look ahead just a bit at the Barcelona draw, there is the potential for a Nadal/Blake semifinal match. Blake is 3-2 against Nadal, but has lost to him twice already this year. The two have never actually faced on clay, and certainly if they do the edge would go to Nadal.
Another interesting match this is already set is between Andy Murray and Mario Ancic. Like Nadal and Blake, these two have never played on clay. Ancic is 2-1 against Murray, including a victory over him earlier this year at Miami. Murray comes into the tournament ranked #19 in the world which is down 10 spots from where he started in 2008. Ancic, on the other hand, started the year ranked #85 due to his lack of play in 2007 and has climbed up to #51 already. This is going to be a good match, and right now I think Ancic has the edge because of his clay court experience. He is a former French Open and Rome quarterfinalist (2006), and moves well on the dirt.