Back in Barcelona for the prestigious PTA Tour 500 event where Daniel Páez Blanco is defending champion after beating Sanchez Emelio in the final last year one and one. Some big names who were present last year are missing here - Randy Smeltz (SF), Sven Oxenstierna (QF) and Davis Kennedy (QF) are notable omissions. Neverthless, while those players are gone the likes of Zoltán Varga, Rasmus Olesen and Henry Charles make their debut appearances.
Some good stuff for the CWLanders here. The only seeded player is Heath Davis though he has a tough run being drawn in Olesen's eighth. A possible showdown with Scotland Rivers in the second round awaits, but Rivers has to get past Ivan Genov who is the highest ranked unseeded competitor. Jarkko Maxum meanwhile gets a cruisy start against little known wildcard Juan Manuel Cortés, and a second round clash with CW Open finalist Oneil Stewart is very winnable - the Jamaican is an unknown quantity on clay.
Spas Delev gets a lucky break with the withdrawal of Sergio Joaquín and should have no problems making the third round. It gets a lot trickier there against Season I semi finalist Illya Altman. Finally Rob Bowenburg gets it real tough - finalist from last season Sanchez Emelio stands in his way and it is tough to see him winning.
A rematch of last year's final could be in the making by the quarterfinals, and Daniel Páez Blanco is rightly favourite to retain his crown despite losing in Monte Carlo last week. The best two players in the draw are in the same half and I imagine will meet in the semis again, so my prediction is Blando def. Z.Varga in the final.