Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Stefanos Tsitsipas join Nadal in..


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Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Stefanos Tsitsipas join Nadal in..

Staged at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, the oldest tennis club in Spain, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell or Trofeo Conde de Godo has been a part of the Open era since 1970, with Manolo Santana, Manuel Orantes, Ilie Nastase, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster, Albert Costa, Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya among the winners here.

Still, one name stands above them all, with Rafael Nadal winning 11 titles in Barcelona to dominate the fifth strongest ATP tournament on clay ever since he won it for the first time at the age of 18 in 2005! In fact, Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Kei Nishikori are the only champions in Barcelona since 2005 and we will see if 2019 is the year for someone else to lift the beautiful trophy.

The organizers have already confirmed Rafael Nadal as the first player signed for 2019, seeking his 12th crown, and the tournament director Albert Costa has announced more big names that will fight for the title between April 22-28 next year. After David Ferrer who will play in Barcelona for the very last time, the two-time winner and 2016 beaten finalist Kei Nishikori will make his eighth appearance at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, skipping it only once since 2011 and winning 19 matches overall (including a 14-1 run between 2014-16).

Kei is one of the rare players who has managed to reach three consecutive finals here and he will try to get back on the winning way after having to retire after the opening set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez this year. Kei was one of the most productive players at the end of 2018, finishing inside the top-10 and setting even bigger goals for the season in front of us.

World number 8 Dominic Thiem has been one of the players to beat on clay in the last couple of seasons, winning eight ATP titles on the slowest surface and reaching the final at Roland Garros this season.

Thiem has played in Barcelona four times, losing to Nadal in the final in 2017 and suffering a tough loss against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final this April. The Greek is currently ranked 15 and he returns to Barcelona where he played in his maiden ATP final this year, winning five matches in straight sets (three top-20 wins) before Nadal halted him in the title encounter.

After winning just four matches prior to 2018, Stefanos claimed no less than 46 wins this year and he was also the finalist in Toronto where he defeated four top-10 players as the youngest one to do so at Masters 1000 event since it started in 1990.

Also, he claimed his first ATP crown in Stockholm before lifting the NextGen Masters trophy as well to finish the season on a high note.