The Madrid Open gets underway in the Spanish capital this week, with the changing of the guard at the top of the men’s game continuing to evolve at a rapid pace.
Novak Djokovic has joined Rafael Nadal in withdrawing from the event due to injury; throwing up even more questions around next month’s French Open.
Now all eyes will be on the player looking to cement his status as the world No.1 in waiting.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
For the first time in the event’s history, the Madrid Open will be held over two weeks, making it a 12-day event at the impressive La Caja Magica tennis complex.
With a capacity for 17,000 fans across three main clay courts, a host of practice courts, and a retractable roof, the venue is well-equipped to meet the ATP’s prestigious event criteria.
WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?
Carlos Alcaraz is the undisputed favourite in Madrid if the bookies are anything to go by, with punters also certain that the talented teen will take the French Open title just a few weeks later.
With uncertainty looming over the form and fitness of Nadal and Djokovic, Alcaraz remains at the top of his game when you consider the opening months of 2023, and that looks likely to continue as he faces into his favoured clay season.
Alcaraz had an impressive win in Madrid last year; beating Nadal and Djokovic on his way to lifting the title.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is another player to watch; showing near to his best in Barcelona last week with Andrey Rublev another one in the running following a fine win at the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month.
THE WOMEN’S DRAW
The form player heading into this latest WTA 1000 event is world No.1 Iga Swiatek, who confirmed she has what it takes to beat her biggest rival Aryna Sabalenka in the Stuttgart final on Sunday.
Swiatek’s joyous reaction to her win in Germany confirmed this was a victory she needed to boost her confidence after a challenging few months and when she is on a roll, this ruthless performer is hard to beat on clay courts.
The absence of Tunisia’s Ons Jabuer will be one obstacle removed for Swiatek, as the defending champion pulled out of the defence of her Madrid title with a calf injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Paula Badosa will be keen to shine on home soil after a three-set defeat against Sabalenka in Stuttgart last week.
America’s Jessica Pegula will also be keen to cement her clay court credentials as she looks to defend the 600 ranking points she collected during her run to last year’s Madrid final.
In the men’s draw, Lorenzo Musetti is a player to watch after he recorded an impressive win against Djokovic in Monte Carlo; backing that up with a run to the semi-finals in Barcelona last week.
Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic is another player to keep on your radar in Madrid, following a win at Banja Luka last week in a run that included impressive victories against Djokovic and Rublev.
ALL COURT TENNIS CLUB VERDICT
Can anyone stop Alcaraz? The Spaniard missed the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month following his impressive performances in Indian Wells and Miami ATP 1000 events last month.
Alcaraz should ensure he doesn’t push his body too far after competing with such ferocity to win the title in Barcelona last week.
Rublev is a player who could challenge Alcaraz if in top form, with his clay court reputation rising after that win in Monte Carlo.
In the women’s draw, look out for Badosa who is sure to reap the benefits of being cheered on by her home fans while playing on her favoured surface, clay.
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