The ATP calendar in the fortnight after the Monte-Carlo Open is extremely active in the current clay season. The last week saw the conclusion of Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, an ATP 500 event, at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona, which is the oldest Tennis Club in Spain dating back to 1899. Concurrently, Bucharest hosted an ATP 250 tournament, BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy. This week is also peppered with three ATP 250 events in Istanbul, Estoril and Munich and tennis stars are having their pick to suit their personal time tables. While world no.2 and top-seed Roger Federer has chosen to play at Istanbul, where Grigor Dimitrov is the second seed; the Portuguese tournament at Estoril features Feliciano Lopez, Kevin Anderson, Tommy Robredo and Richard Gasquet among others. In Munich, no.1 seed Andy Murray is making his first appearance after his marriage with Kim Sears. Other stars at the BMW Open Munich include; Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and Fabio Fognini.
Earlier Japan’s Kei Nishikori continued his superb touch and won the 2015 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell for the second year in a row. Until 2014, the Barcelona Open had been dominated by Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who lifted the coveted trophy eight times in nine years. Nadal was one of the participants in 2015 as well but he made his exit before the quarterfinal, losing 4-6, 6-7 against Italy’s Fabio Fognini. Nishikori, who was the top seed, played great tennis all through the week and met local hope Pablo Andujar in the final. Earlier in the semifinals, Nishikori broke no sweat in defeating Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-2 but Andujar had a tougher challenge on his hands. The Spaniard rose to the occasion and shocked his more celebrated compatriot David Ferrer in the other semifinal. The 29-year-old Andujar fought hard in the first set before taking it at 7-6 and then came back to break Ferrer early in the second set to win the match 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 46 minutes.
In the final however, playing with Kei Nishikori was too much for Andujar as the Japanese showed superb athleticism in his court movements. The match began with both players holding serves until the 10th game, when the Japanese found an opening and broke Andujar with some blistering groundstrokes to take the first set 6-4. Pablo Andujar, however, came back strongly in the second set and broke Nishikori as the second set got underway. But the Japanese dug deep into his reserves and broke back in the mid-set to make it 4-4. Having drawn level, Nishikori applied pressure and broke again to take his second consecutive Barcelona Open crown in an hour and 35 minutes.
At Bucharest on the same day, Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez scored a hard-fought 7-6, 7-6 victory over Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely in the final of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy. The 21-year old Vesely played a great first set as he fought back from a 0-3 deficit against Garcia-Lopez and held two set points. But the 31-year old Spaniard saved those points and forced a tiebreak that he won. In the second set, the battle continued as the two players traded breaks early in the second set and eventually leveled at 6-6 and another tie-break ensued. Yet again, Vesely held two set points to come on the verge of forcing a decider. But the experienced Garcia-Lopez resisted strongly, and capitalizing on his sixth match point; sealed the victory in two hours and 14 minutes.