Five champions in action
In the last 16 years, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell – Trofe Conde de Godó, has seen five different players that I have raised the champion´s trophy. These are Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo (photo). All of them were going to participate in this edition, which was, without a doubt, great news and a powerful attraction for the tournament and for all the spectators who had a ticket for any day from April 18-26.
Not surprisingly, the main claim was, for another year, the participation of Rafa Nadal, the Barcelona super champion in capital letters with 11 titles to his name. The Balearic tennis player, the first player to confirm his participation in this edition, has played 15 times in the tournament organized by his club. He debuted in 2003, at just 16 years old, falling in the first round to Alex Corretja in three sets, who at the time was 17th in the world ranking.
From then on, Rafa Nadal would start to make his mark year after year on the centre court of the Real Club Tenis Barcelona-1899 (RCTB), until he became the tournament's legend and the greatest champion of all time. And after his debut, from his next participation in 2005 and until 2013, he reached and won eight consecutive finals, all editions except for the one in 2010, in which Nadal entered, but finally could not play due to some discomfort in his knees that forced him to take a break.
That was the only occasion in which the tennis player from Manacor was absent. After eight consecutive victories, Nadal resisted the title in 2014 and 2015, but then won three other titles in a row in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions. In total, Nadal has played 11 finals in Barcelona and has won all them in his 15 participations. His victims being Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018), Dominic Thiem (2017), Kei Nishikori (2016), Nicolás Almagro (2013), David Ferrer (2012, 2011, 2009 and 2008), Guillermo Cañas (2007), Tommy Robredo (2006 ) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2005).
In Barcelona, where the centre court was named the Rafa Nadal court in 2017, the Balearic has faced 52 different tennis players, and only Alex Corretja (2003), Nicolás Almagro (2014), Fabio Fognini (2015) and Dominic Thiem (2018) have been able to beat him. His overall win/loss record is 61-4.
Nishikori, two titles and three consecutive finals
Another of the champions that appear in a prominent place in the winner´s list of our tournament is Kei Nishikori. The Japanese has two titles, won consecutively in 2014 and 2015 against Santiago Giraldo and Pablo Andújar, respectively. The participation of the Japanese in Barcelona dates back to 2011, in an edition in which he fell in the round of 32 to Feliciano López. Since then Nishikori has been present at the tournament eight times, reaching the finals in three occasions. The Japanese didn´t manage to lift a third trophy in 2016 in the final played against the undisputed champion Rafa Nadal. Kei's win/loss record in Barcelona is 22-6.
The most recent champion, the last to dive in the pool of the RCTB to celebrate the title as tradition dictates, is Dominic Thiem. The Austrian tennis player raised the cup last year after a perfect tournament in which he did not lose a set, and in which he beat Diego Schwartzman, Jaume Munar, Guido Pella, Rafa Nadal and Daniil Medvedev in the final. Apart from the final won in the last edition, Thiem also played in 2017, but could not do anything against Nadal. The Austrian's win/loss record at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell is 13-4.
Who was also crowned in Barcelona was Fernando Verdasco, in 2010. The man from Madrid achieved the victory in the only final he has played. It was against Swedish Robin Soderling, in the last final of the tournament's history, that, to date, that had to be decided in three sets. Verdasco's debut at Godó was in 2003 and since then he has played 12 editions in Barcelona with a win/loss record of 16-11.
Before Nadal, Thiem, Nishikori and Verdasco, the first to proclaim himself champion on the clay of Barcelona was Tommy Robredo, who debuted in the tournament in 1999 and has played a total of 18 editions with a win/loss record of 27-16. The only player that has showed more loyalty than him in terms of participation is Feliciano López with 20, an absolute record.
Tommy's great moment, which this year he would have had to play most likely the qualifying round, was the final in 2004, when he won in a memorable match against Gastón Gaudio that lasted almost four hours and was resolved in five sets. Two years later, the player from Olot reached the final again, but he lost to his friend Rafa Nadal, who has never budged in Barcelona finals.
These are the five champions who had to visit us in the 68th edition of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Will we see them again in 2021?