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  • Barcelona Open Tips And Best Bets: Rafael Nadal Returns But Stefanos Tsitsipas Is The Top Contender

Barcelona Open tips and best bets: Rafael Nadal returns but Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top contender

Planet Sport tennis expert Derek Bilton looks ahead to a potentially thrilling Barcelona Open, picking a couple of tips along the way.

We hit the crossbar at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, with our 20/1 tip Casper Ruud losing in Sunday’s final. Fair play if you backed him each-way at 20’s, but I punted him on the nose so was as sick as a cowboy’s horse after Sunday’s showpiece against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Principality.

There’s no time to dwell on things however as the red dirt action moves to Catalonia and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

This ATP 500 gig is arguably the biggest tournament in the Spanish tennis calendar, and has a load of history having been staged at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899 since 1953.

The big news is that Spain’s greatest ever player Rafael Nadal is set to compete, and he kicks off with a match against Flavio Cobolli in the round of 64.

A 12-time champion at this ATP event - where the stadium court is named after him - Nadal is kind of a big deal round these parts. He is set to play in just his second tournament of 2024. Spain’s Raging Bull was last in action at the ATP Brisbane event in January, where he lost to Aussie Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals.

If he is fit – and it is a big ‘if’ given his issues over the last couple of years - his 11/2 price with Planet Sport Bet could look huge come the weekend. Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner have not entered, while Carlos Alcaraz has withdrawn due to an arm injury.

Ruud is a 4/1 betting favourite in the outright market, but he has played a lot of tennis in recent weeks and may not see this as a priority. Ditto Tsitsipas, who was brilliant in Monte Carlo but was left sobbing in his chair with his head in his hands after beating Ruud.

However, if you dig a little deeper Tsitsipas at 9/2 looks a play. The top half of the draw where he lurks has opened right up due to that Alcaraz pull out. The Greek 25-year-old has also made three finals here in Barcelona (losing twice to Nadal and once to Alcaraz).

Nadal is the greatest player EVER on this surface, but he has barely played for the last 18 months so it would make headlines around the world if he was to roll back the years and win title number 13 this week.

Tsitsipas going back-to-back is much more likely, and while it is never easy reaching ATP finals on clay in consecutive weeks, he wasn’t involved in many gruelling battles in Monte Carlo (with the exception of his semi against Sinner).

In the bottom half of the draw Ugo Humbert could be worth an each-way punt at 28/1. The Frenchman is very dangerous at his best and pushed Ruud all the way in Monaco last week in their quarter-final.

Already a champion in Marseille and Dubai this season, Humbert is a play on the rise. The 6'2” lefty hits a flat ball and is not afraid to stand at the top of the baseline and have it out with his opponents. He has yet to win a title on clay, but looks a top 10 player in waiting and could make some waves this week in a weakened field on the north-eastern coast of Spain.


Suggested bets

Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at 9/2 (Planet Sport Bet).

Ugo Humbert (each-way) to win the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at 28/1 (Planet Sport Bet).

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