The Madrid Masters 1000 tournament on clay is underway in the Spanish capital of Madrid. Players look on to continue preparations for Roland Garros. Here are the names to watch out for during the coming week.
1. Rafael Nadal:
It would just be foolish for anyone to not put their money on Nadal when it comes to clay. After achieving ‘La Decima’ in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, no one else is poised to take the trophy home as much as the King of Clay himself is. The four-time winner looks in absolute thunderous form win his fifth title here. The path to victory could be puzzling as he is drawn to play Fabio Fognini, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic, or David Goffin during the early rounds. But given this form, it is going to be hard to stop Nadal.
2. Dominic Thiem:
Since clay is his best surface, Thiem could do some serious damage on the Caja Magica clay this year. A week ago, he reached the finals of Barcelona Open by beating Andy Murray in the semifinal, losing to Nadal eventually. He seems to have gathered some confidence from that. Given his form, he too is expected to make it big this week. His draw is a less tricky one. Lucas Pouille, Grigor Dimitrov, and Andy Murray are projected opponents. And Thiem can potentially beat all of them to go deep in the tournament.
3. Novak Djokovic:
A couple of days ago, the Serb caused a stir in the tennis world by the announcement of him parting ways with his entire coaching team. He called this a “shock therapy” and hopes to be back on top of his form soon. The defending champion hasn’t made it past the last eight of any tournament this year(except the Qatar Open). At the Monte Carlo Masters he lost to David Goffin in the quarterfinal. On top of this, he has a tough draw, with Gael Monfils and Kei Nishikori in his quarter. This will be a good test for this new move of his. It will be very interesting to see how the World #2 will fare this week.
4. Andy Murray:
The World #1 has had a very average season. Hampered by injuries and illness, the 2016 finalist is also looking to regain strong form before Roland Garros. He was shocked in the Round of 16 by Albert Ramos Vinolas at Monte Carlo and also suffered a defeat against Thiem in the semifinals of Barcelona Open. His quarter includes Pouille, Dimitrov, and Thiem, which will be a test for the Brit.
5. Nick Kyrgios:
Kyrgios has not played any clay court event this year, but he definitely is the dark horse here. Probably the most promising player on tour, Kyrgios has beaten Djokovic twice this year and pushed Roger Federer to limit. He is drawn to meet Nadal in the third round and will give the Spaniard a tough fight. Last year he made the quarterfinal here. It will be very interesting to see how he performs on the clay.
Apart from these players, there are many more players to watch out for. Alexander Zverev tops that list. Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, Lucas Pouille, and Grigor Dimitrov also cannot be counted out of contention, but they are not quite in the top five contenders as things stand now.
Potential Quarterfinal Matches, based on seeding:
Andy Murray vs Dominic Thiem
Stan Wawrinka vs Marin Cilic
Milos Raonic vs Rafael Nadal
Kei Nishikori vs Novak Djokovic