4th Masters event of the year gather all top players in the world without exceptions. Glorious and beautiful Madrid is the next stop of men’s tour and will be the scene of quality battles on the red clay. Second Grand Slam tournament will start in less than a month and everyone want to show good form in preliminary competitions.
Since 2008 tournament champion always becomes one of the big four, but is it time for writing a new story, or one of the old guns will grab back the title? Will see.
After two years of skipping the tournament, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic is back in the Spanish capital. With unsuccessful performance in last Masters – Monte Carlo, the Serb decided to take part here and not to make a longer break. His year so far is strong, he has added four titles to his collection – Doha, AO, Indian Wells and Miami. But unexpectedly, in Monaco Novak was stopped by the Czech Jiri Vesely in three sets. Champion in Madrid from 2011, the best player start this year’s tournament with second round match against the winner of Almagro/Coric. Both of them played this week in Estoril. The Croatian was beaten in two sets by Nick Kyrgios, while Spaniard defeated the Australian and will go out against Carreno Busta in the Sunday’s final . Possible 3rd round opponent for Novak is 15th seed and one of the experienced Spanish players Roberto Bautista Agut. He is the winner in Auckland and Sofia this season, but lost early in Barcelona last week. In Monte Carlo he was stopped by Roger Federer in 3rd round. Agut starts with qualifier and after that the winner of Leonardo Mayer/ Feliciano Lopez.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is 7th seed and closely situated to Novak, so they could meet in quarters. The Frenchman is semifinalist in the last Masters event – Monte Carlo. In that stage of tournament he lost from his compatriot Gael Monfils. 2016 is inconsistent year for Tsonga. He played one more semifinal – in the start of January in Auckland. In Indian Wells he played a good match against world number 1 and future champion Novak Djokovic, but lost in 2 tiebreak sets. This week he starts Mutua Madrid Open with the winner of Vinolas/Chardy, then a possible 3rd round against Milos Raonic, seeded as no.11. Canadian is quarterfinalist in Miami and Monte Carlo and runner-up in Indian Wells, starts here with Belucci. In the start of 2016 he got the title in Brisbane after final win against Roger Federer. Consistent in every tournament he played, Raonic is always a big danger for top players.
4th seed is Stan Wawrinka. Always unpredictable, the Swiss is owner of 2 titles this year – in Chennai and Dubai. Last two months were not successful for him. He lost early in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo, so in the big tournaments this year Stan still trying to find the rhythm in his game. In Madrid, Wawrinka is 2013 runner-up, but last season he lost in 3rd round. First opponent for Stan is going to be the winner of Pella and Kyrgios. The Australian young gun looks in really good shape. This week he lost the ½ final in Estoril and won his first ATP title two months ago. He also played semifinal in Miami. Wawrinka’s hard way could continue with 3rd round match against 13th seed and finalist in last Master event in Monte Carlo – Gael Monfils. The French starts with making return Kevin Anderson, and possible 2nd round could face either – Kohlschreiber or Cuevas.
Second part of top half could see quarterfinal battle between Wawrinka and Nishikori. Finalist last week in Barcelona, Kei Nishikori is the 6th seed. With good and consistent results this year, the Japanese deal with lower ranking opponents, but when he faces one of the big four, the difficulties start and he loses the match. Last two years in Madrid he also lost from the future champions – 2014 from Nadal in final, and 2015 from Murray in semis. Now Kei’s road start with Fognini or Tomic, after that the 10th seed Gasquet. The other one of top French might face in 2nd round Verdasco, who win his first title since 2014 last week in Bucharest.
When the draw became known we immediately notice titanic quarterfinal which can happen – Nadal against Federer!
Situated in the beginning of bottom half, with 10 consecutive wins and 2 titles in a row, one of the main pretenders for the title is Rafael Nadal, the no.5 seed. Grabbing the titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, he is back in Madrid with the confidence of the best player in the last month. The best clay-court player is the champion in his home country tournament in 2005, 2010, 2013 and 2014. With these 4 titles he is the participant with most trophies in Madrid. Also, he’s got 3 lost finals, one of them was last year, when he was beaten by Andy Murray. After a difficult start of the year, seems that Nadal is on right way in the middle of the clay season. Possible 2nd round opponent for Rafa are Troicki or Kuznetsov. First seeded player he could face is David Goffin, no.12 in the draw. The Belgian is the semifinalist in the both USA Masters in march and looking forward for another good result.
17-time Grand Slam champion and 3-th seed Roger Federer decided to play in Madrid a few days ago. Champion in Spanish capital in 2006, 2009 and 2012 is also in the big game. He participated in only 3 tournaments this year. Runner-up in Brisbane and semifinalist in Melbourne, Federer skip march journey in USA and play in last Masters event in Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, he lost 3-sets battle against Tsonga in the quarters. In 2nd round here, Federer will play against the winner of Mahut/Sousa. His possible 3rd round opponent is 14th seed Dominic Thiem. With a 2 titles this year, young Austrian still hasn’t had his big break in Master events or Slams. In 1st round here, in Madrid he will play against recently returned Juan Martin Del Potro.
Last quarterfinal in Mutua Madrid Open could oppose Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray.
8-th seed Berdych is also one of the big names here. The Czech is the finalist from 2012, when he lost tough match against Federer. 2016 is not the best year for Berdych, but he reached quarterfinal in 5 tournaments of 7 in which he played since the start of the year. Tomas starts his way here with 2nd round match against Gabashvili or qualifier, possible 3rd round he might face 9th seed experienced clay court player David Ferrer. The Spanish second best player starts against compatriot Garcia Lopez. If he win, his next opponent could be the big server Ivo Karlovic, who played in a semifinal this week in Istanbul.
2nd seed is last year champion Andy Murray. Recently became a father, the Scot did not perform particularly well in the previous three Masters. He lost early in Indian Wells and Miami, but in Monte Carlo showed signs of optimism after reaching the semifinals. There, however, he was stopped in three sets by the future champion Rafael Nadal. Murray is two time champion here, 2008 and 2015, so this tournament is perfect stage for his first serious blow after the Australian open final. First opponent for Murray will be Canadian Vasek Pospisil or qualifier. Possible 3rd round against 16th seed and former runner-up in Madrid Gilles Simon or Grigor Dimitrov, who beat him in Miami. After last year’s resurgence on clay, whether now it will be successful surface for Murray?
With great clashes in the first rounds of the competition, this year’s tournament in Madrid promises one week of quality tennis and unpredictable twists. Don’t miss it!
You can check the WTA Madrid Preview by clicking here
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