The backed-up Barcelona tournament still has to complete the third round on Friday due to rain earlier in the week. A jam-packed lineup features Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Frances Tiafoe.
(1) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. (14) Grigor Dimitrov
Tsitsipas vs. Dimitrov was almost the Monte-Carlo final, but Dimitrov lost a tough one in the semis to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Now this matchup will happen in round three of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Friday afternoon. Tsitsipas leads the head-to-head series 2-1, including 1-0 on clay. Their only previous encounter on the red stuff came at the 2020 French Open, where the Greek got the job done 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-2.
After making a run to the semis of that event, Tsitsipas went one step farther and finished runner-up at Roland Garros in 2021. On each occasion he was stopped only by Novak Djokovic in five sets. Tsitisipas is now a two-time champion in Monte-Carlo and he extended his winning streak to six matches with a three-set victory over Ilya Ivashka on Thursday. Dimitrov scraped past Federico Coria in three sets to survive his Barcelona opener, so the Bulgarian is also in fine form. This should be a fun one, but Tsitsipas has been one of the best clay-courters in the world for several years and he should have a decisive edge.
Pick: Tsitsipas in 2
(13) Frances Tiafoe vs. (3) Felix Auger-Aliassime
Auger-Aliassime and Tiafoe will be going head-to-head for the second time in their career on Thursday. Their only previous meeting came last summer in the U.S. Open fourth round, with Auger-Aliassime prevailing 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-4.
Although neither man is playing as well as he did in New York, the edge in current form goes to Tiafoe. The 29th-ranked American reached the third round in Indian Wells, the fourth round in Miami, and the quarterfinals in Houston. He defeated clay-court specialist Hugo Dellien 7-6(3), 6-1 on Wednesday. Auger-Aliassime had been a disastrous 1-5 in his last six matches prior to holding off Carlos Taberner 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round. It was another error-strewn performance by the ninth-ranked Canadian and does little to suggest that he is emerging from his slump.
Pick: Tiafoe in 3