The 2019 Mutua Madrid Open is one of two key remaining ATP Masters 1000 warm up tournaments ahead of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros. The first portion of the European spring clay court season has yielded a number of surprising results and the ATP Madrid tournament truly looks to be up for grabs. Dominic Thiem could really shock the field.
ATP Madrid Stock Watch Featuring Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Fabio Fognini are among the names in his path, but Dominic Thiem truly has a shot at this Masters title. Thiem won his first Masters (the biggest title of his career) with a finals victory against Federer and recently upset Rafael Nadal to reach the Barcelona final that he would go on to win. Thiem has always been at his best on clay and has won more than 20 tour level matches a season on the surface since 2015. Thiem is defending finals points here, having reached the final twice in a row. This is his shot to take things one win further and lift the trophy with some of the biggest names in tennis out of form.
Sustained success on clay this year has helped Fognini reach a career high ranking of world #12 at age 31. A leg injury kept him out of tournaments that would have followed his Monte Carlo Masters victory, the biggest title of his career. Fognini stunned Rafael Nadal, along with wins against Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev to win that title and now has to get past Kyle Edmund and John Millman/Steve Johnson in order to setup a likely third round battle with the aforementioned Thiem, who would be favored. If he can get healthy Fognini should also be a factor in Rome, his home tournament, and Paris.
Dusan Lajovic has risen quickly to a career high #23 world ranking and the spot of Serbian #2 behind Djokovic. Lajovic is at his best on clay, as he upset David Goffin, Thiem, and Daniil Medvedev to reach the Monte Carlo final. That result came as a shock for Lajovic but he has been showing gradual improvement year over year on the ATP tour, despite having not yet won an ATP title. Lajovic has a solid chance of upsetting Juan Martin Del Potro on his return to tour, and Marin Cilic or Nick Kyrgios, that could setup a match with his countryman Djokovic where he should at least test the Serbian superstar.
Medvedev is another player at a career high, the world #14 broke through and 2018 and has backed it up in 2019 with some incredible victories and consistently solid play. Medvedev, who hits a flat ball, has surprised on clay reaching the semis in Monte Carlo with wins over Stefanos Tsitispas and Djokovic, and the final in Barcelona with an upset win against Kei Nishikori. Stan Wawrinka, Nishikori, and Tsitipsas are in his seed path again, but he looks well positioned to make a deep run on the clay here, and at Roland Garros.
The top 10 Tsitsipas is into the Estoril final after some solid play, he had a solid early year on the hard courts and now is heating up on clay. Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, or David Ferrer should be his first serious competition, if he’s fresh after Estoril he is a good chance to make a deep run in Madrid.
Many players wish they were playing as good as Djokovic is right now, but by his lofty standard he’s well off the pace. Djokovic will face credible opposition in Marco Cecchinato and Dominic Thiem despite being the top seed and could suffer another surprise defeat in Madrid. Djokovic has exited his last three tournaments, including Monte Carlo, in the quarterfinals or earlier, results that are shockingly poor given all of his losses have come to non top 10 players.
Zverev is in really poor form, the current world #3 is just 12-7 on the season and hasn’t won consecutive matches since Acapulco. The German is just 3-4 on clay and his losses have come to non top 10 competition. Despite his high seeding little is expected of Zverev this tournament. The Madrid defending champion is set to go out in the third round or earlier, perhaps to the retiring David Ferrer or Borna Coric.
Cilic is normally an average to poor player on clay, and this season hasn’t been different. Cilic has lost both of his clay court matches on the year and despite his top 10 seeding he is unlikely to advance into the later stages of the tournament.
Pablo Carreno Busta
Carreno Busta has struggled to stay healthy in 2019 and has lost all three of his clay court matches this season. Normally a solid clay courter, PCB is set to exit in the first couple of rounds, likely to the in-form Dominic Thiem.
Karen Khachanov has endured a miserable season, after 41 wins last year he’s suffered a string of early exits that started in Miami and has lost three straight matches on the clay, a surface that he’s previously had credible results on. Jaume Munar or Fernando Verdasco are set to upset Khachanov and add to the misery he’s endured this season.