There's only one tournament on the ATP calendar this week, the event in Barcelona. Rafael Nadal was the top seed, but withdrew before the tournament started. Not that it really matters to him, but that's fine with me: Approaching his schedule with some caution is a good move.
I have to admit, I am anxious to see what he does his next time out after watching him completely and utterly destroy the field in Monte Carlo. Every scoreline, even the finals against countryman Fernando Verdasco, was like "Whoa, did you see that?"
But despite Nadal's absence, the field is still really strong in Barcelona and three of the local boys are poised to battle for the title based on the year they're having so far.
Verdasco hasn't picked up a title on clay yet this year, but his wins at Monte Carlo indicate he's in good form, which he's carried over here so far as shown by his win over Richard Gasquet.
Then there's the veteran, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who's been playing this year like it's 2003 all over again. He's already won two titles on the dirt and almost had a third in a row if not for former top-four player and countryman David Ferrer stopping him in the finals in Acapulco.
I know it's not a shock to see Spanish guys doing big things on clay. I just have this feeling that this year is going to be more special than ever in what we've seen from the country. And depending on how the draw breaks at the French, if five Spaniards were to make the quarters, I wouldn't be surprised.