[Garcia-Lopez eyeing back-to-back Grand Prix Hassan II titles]
Reigning champion Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will attempt to continue the Spanish dominance of the Grand Prix Hassan II this week.
The world number 25 beat compatriot Marcel Granollers in last year’s final to triumph in Casablanca for the first time.
Garcia-Lopez’s success ensured there has been a Spanish winner in the only ATP World
Tour tournament in Africa in five of the last six years after Tommy Robredo, Pablo Andujar (twice) and Juan Carlos Ferrero were also victorious in the hard-court event.
Top seed Garcia-Lopez already has one tournament success to his name in Zagreb this year, but the 31-year-old will need a return to form in order to defend his title.
The Albacete-born right-hander has won only one of his last five matches and Granollers is among the contenders who will be striving to dethrone the champion.
Fourth seed Granollers won the first set a year ago before Garcia-Lopez battled back to prevail 5-7 6-4 6-3 and the world number 50 has not won an ATP World Tour title since July 2013.
The 28-year-old reached the semi-finals in Zagreb back in February, but has not had much joy since then and will be eager to erase the memories of coming so close last year.
Martin Klizan and Jiri Vesely would appear to be the most likely of the non-Spanish players to go all the
way this week.
Slovakian Klizan, the second seed, was a semi-finalist two years ago and will be looking to win his first tournament since his victory in Munich last year.
Third seed Vesely was a winner in Auckland in January and is back in competitive action for the first time since retiring in the second set of his first-round match against Marcos Baghdatis at Indian Wells last month due to illness.
Andujar will be out to win the tournament for a third time, while former world number nine Nicolas Almagro makes his first appearance in Casablanca for a decade.