Barcelona R2 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Almagro, Gulbis vs. Paire

The Grandstand

Gulbis 4Rafael Nadal will kick off his Barcelona campaign on Wednesday against familiar foe and fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. Ernests Gulbis and Benoit Paire are also in second-round action.

Nicolas Almagro vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Almagro will be squaring off for the 13th time in their careers when they collide in round two of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 11-1 in Nadal’s favor after the world No. 1 cruised 6-4, 6-2 last month on the hard courts of Miami. They have faced each other three times in Barcelona, where Almagro scored his only win via a 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 decision in 2014. Nadal is still 8-1 lifetime against his fellow Spaniard on clay.

Like last year, Nadal is struggling as he heads into this event. The No. 2 seed lost early in Indian Wells and Miami before falling to Novak Djokovic 6-3…

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