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Soderling is considered the favorite to win in Barcelona.

Robin Soderling is beginning his clay court efforts this season in Barcelona this week and he will be drawing a lot of attention.

After the Swede almost ran the tables at the French Open last season, he will not be taken lightly on clay and this week will provide an early indication of whether he can repeat that Roland Garros feat.

Soderling was in stellar form on the hard courts, making back to back semi-finals in Indian Wells and Miami. However he has never had much luck in Barcelona in the past and will be aiming to get past the second round here for the first time.

David Ferrer has been the champion in waiting for the past two years at the Barcelona Open. He has come runner-up to Nadal both times and with the five time champion finally giving the tournament a miss, Ferrer has his chance.

Monte-Carlo runner-up Fernando Verdasco will also be rating his chances providing his confidence has not been completely blown by his annihilation at the hands of Nadal in the final. However we must not forget that Verdasco blitzed Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and looked in stunning form then.

2001 Barcelona champion Juan Carlos Ferrero should not be counted out here. Ferrero has not threatened in Barcelona for many years but he made the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals last week and gave Nadal one of his toughest matches.

Ian goes back to the very early days of CrunchSports, having been tirelessly covering soccer for us for over 10 years.

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