Roger Federer’s return to clay after a three year hiatus may be the biggest story of this year’s Mutua Madrid Open, but the first day’s order of play has offered up a slew of mouthwatering contests. Here are our Madrid Open Day 1 Predictions.
ATP Mutua Madrid Open Day 1 Predictions
Nick Kyrgios vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Kyrgios has had one significant result in 2019: his title win at the Mexican Open. En route to that title he defeated Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner, and Alexander Zverev. His continued ability to make magic for a week at a time remains unparalleled. Since that victory, he has failed to generate any momentum and continued to struggle physically. His return to play for the first time since his tough three set loss in the Miami Open round of 16 is shrouded in uncertainty about his physical condition. If he’s at 100% or anything close, he is the favorite against big-serving, hard-hitting Struff.
Kyrgios in 2.
Hubert Hurkacz vs Roberto Carballes Baena
Both Hurkacz and Baena played their way through qualifiers in Madrid, and both have had significant results in 2019. Baena most recently at the Barcelona Open where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Kei Nishikori. Hurkacz has had two run-ins of his own with Nishikori this year, however, he won both, the first in Dubai and the second in Indian Wells. Hurkacz also defeated Lucas Pouille and Denis Shapavalov on his way to a quarterfinal against Federer. Carballes Baena is the more proven clay court player, while Hurkacz has the slightly more impressive recent run of form.
Hurkacz in 3.
Taylor Fritz vs Marius Copil
Fritz and Copil have split their two previous meetings and neither has a significant advantage heading into their third. Fritz has big weapons, but has not shown either an aptitude for clay or an ability to put a cohesive power-based game together around his serve the way fellow towering American John Isner has. Copil, with his flat, penetrating ground strokes, does not have a game that naturally fits clay either, but he does have better court coverage and more experience than the young American. Copil was on a five match losing streak before battling through qualifying in Madrid so Fritz is slightly more in form, however lacking his clay court game may be.
Fritz in 3.
Felix Auger Aliassime vs Denis Shapovalov
The most enticing match-up of the first day of main draw play is the clash of the Canadians. Shapavalov and Auger Aliassime practice together and sing each other’s praises in interviews. Both have now had breakthroughs; Shapavalov’s coming in late-summer of 2017 and Auger Aliassime’s much more recently, at this year’s Miami Open. Shapavalov has power and style. When his big-swinging game is firing, it is a joy to behold. Auger Aliassime, by contrast, has the kind of watchable all-court game that yields more consistent results. If Shapovalov is on and hitting his spots, anyone can fall victim to his power. Auger Aliassime has not found his best game on clay yet, but his consistency and variety should give him the edge.
Auger Aliassime in 3.
Main photo: Embed from Getty Images