We have another “5th Slam” contender/pretender this week as the ATP and WTA tours combine at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open. Here’s a quick tournament preview to help you get acclimated.
The top half includes a jaded Rafael Nadal and an overplayed Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray and Roger Federer are the top seeds in the other half.
Rafael Nadal’s quarter: It’s ROUGH, especially for someone who is feeling grouchy (click here) and in need of a break before Roland Garros. His quarterfinal could be a killer – his section is PACKED with clay-loving Spanish-speakers: David Ferrer, Guillermo Canas, Juan Monaco, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and local faves Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco are all possible opponents. Of course, no matter the draw, Rafa’s still the tournament favorite.
Novak Djokovic’s quarter: Novak just won the trophy at his family’s inaugural Serbia Open tournament (over Polish lucky loser Lukasz Kubot.) With his final appearance the week before in Rome, there’s no doubt the man’s been playing a lot of tennis. His draw isn’t a cake-walk – he could face anyone from Tsonga to Safin to Simon in the quarters. I’m interested to see how Sam Querrey fares – he’s Nole’s possible opponent in the Round of 16.
Andy Murray’s quarter: This is the week for Andy Murray, the new World No. 3 (as of May 11), to prove his competence on clay. His quarter is full of guys who excel on the red (not blue) stuff. He’ll take the winner of Bolelli vs. Chela in his first match, likely Tommy Robredo in the Rd. of 16, and could face guys like Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych (fresh off a tournament victory in Munich), Jose Acasuso or Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinal.
Roger Federer’s quarter: I hate to jinx Roger, but come on, he’s sharing the quarter with Andy Roddick, who took most of the clay court season off to get married and Twitter (can you blame him?) That said, Federer has a dangerous second round against the winner of Andreev vs. Soderling. James Blake (who made it to the Estoril final last week, beating Nikolay Davydenko on the way) could be his Rd. of 16 opponent. Picking his quarterfinal opponent is tough – I’m venturing Davydenko over Roddick, Haas, Gulbis, et al.
ATP absences: Gael Monfils, David Nalbandian and Mario Ancic (who is still suffering from glandular fever!) are all out of the Madrid Open, as is Richard Gasquet.
Which guy's winning the Madrid Open title?
- Rafael Nadal (46%, 512 Votes)
- Roger Federer (40%, 443 Votes)
- Novak Djokovic (8%, 85 Votes)
- Andy Murray (2%, 24 Votes)
- Andy Roddick (2%, 17 Votes)
- Fernando Verdasco (1%, 13 Votes)
- Someone else! (1%, 8 Votes)
- David Ferrer (0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,104
All I really want is a battle between “the real No. 1s” in the final. But I’m willing to contemplate other possibilities. . .
Based on seedings, the quarterfinals will be as follows: Dinara Safina vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic vs. Nadia Petrova, Victoria Azarenka vs. Elena Dementieva and Venus vs. Serena. So we definitely won’t have an all-Williams final or yet another championship meeting between Kuznetsova and Safina.
Dinara Safina’s quarter: She has a tough first match against Li Na (who beat Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round.) I’m not assuming she gets past Li, but if she does, she could take on Lucie Safarova in the Rd. of 16 and then Sveta in the quarters.
Jelena Jankovic’s quarter: Jelena’s been looking sharp on the clay, and has already won her first match in Madrid, over Llagostera Vives in straights. Her second round could be a tough one against the winner of Dulko vs. Hantuchova. Petrova is the seed for the quarters, assuming the Russian can get past the likes of Wozniak or Schnyder.
Elena Dementieva’s quarter: Elena already won her first round match against Mattek-Sands. She could be challenged by Jie Zheng in the Rd. of 16 before meeting Azarenka or maybe Agnes Szavay in the quarters.
The Williams sisters’ quarter: Both of the Williams sisters are in the bottom quarter of the draw and both have tough first matches. Serena faces Italian claycourt specialist Francesca Schiavone and Venus has rising Russian Alisa Kleybanova. Venus could face a tricky Rd. of 16 opponent in either Wozniacki or Peer. Serena’s draw is more open, stocked with qualifiers and wildcards (like Martinez Sanchez, who almost beat Dinara in Rome.)
WTA absences: Play started on Saturday for the women and some names are already out of the draw including Marion Bartoli, Agnieszka Radwanska, Flavia Pennetta, Maria Kirilenko and Alize Cornet. Ana Ivanovic, Vera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova are out with injury.
Which gal's winning the Madrid Open title? Total Voters: 555
Which gal's winning the Madrid Open title?
Total Voters: 555
Click here for the Madrid Open t.v. schedule (U.S. and Britain)
Click here for an interesting New York Times piece on Madrid’s much-hyped tennis stadium, the Magic Box
Thumbnail photo of the Magic Box explained in the NYT article, taken by Javier Soriano/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images