The Barcelona Open organization has taken further hits as Jannik Sinner, Hubert Hurkacz and Roberto Bautista Agut have joined Rafael Nadal on the player withdrawal list. World No. 12 Sinner made his clay-court debut in Barcelona last year, when he reached the semi-final before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2021, was scheduled to make his debut this year in Barcelona. Bautista Agut, 34, will not make his seventh Barcelona appearance. Bautista Agut has never had much success in Barcelona, as he only has two quarter-final finishes in the event.
Bautista Agut is dealing with an injury and has withdrawn from this week's Monte Carlo Masters. Bautista Agut did not play in Monte Carlo, but Sinner and Hurkacz did and enjoyed great performances. On Friday, Sinner found himself outclassed by Alexander Zverev in a thrilling three-set match that lasted over three hours.
Hurkacz also suffered a disappointing loss as Grigor Dimitrov handed the Pole 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2). "In the end I think it was very hard for both of us," Dimitrov said after the match. "I think physically we both felt good, but I felt like I stayed on top the whole time and put a lot of pressure on [him].
I think that was the difference. All I could tell myself was just put the ball in the court. He knew that every time he managed to get the ball on the court and into the rally, he felt that he was making him very uncomfortable.
His serve was unbelievable, especially in the second set, so I had to keep calm, to be honest." The Barcelona Open lost Nadal and a couple of big names, but the tournament will still have some stars, as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud are ready to play.
Ruud pays tribute to Nadal
World No. 7 Casper Ruud recently delved deeper into the reasons behind Rafael Nadal's mind-boggling dominance on clay. "He plays every point very, very strictly and with order, like it’s his last point.
I have heard him say that many times before and that’s the reason he never gives you room to breathe," Casper Ruud said. "You don’t get too many free points from him in a match or when you play points [in practice].
With the clay, sometimes it’s more physically demanding because you play longer rallies and longer matches, and he’s there ready for it. He sets up the point very well and many times the same way. He likes to dominate points with his forehand and I think the majority of his clay-court career, he has been very successful playing his forehand heavy crosscourt to his opponent’s backhand, usually when he plays right-handed players," Ruud explained.
"Most players struggle with his shots and it’s very normal because they’re very heavy. I think this is what makes him so successful."