Rafael Nadal (3) vs Daniel Brands Court Philipp Chatrier
The seven-time champion begins his run for a record breaking eighth title against the big serving German. Nadal has been in outstanding form, currently on a 15 match winning streak and although it is hard to see anything but number 16 coming here we will get an idea of the form the third seed is in. After slogging it away in Challengers for much of his career, Brands has finally made a breakthrough on the tour holding a 13-10 record on the year with two semi finals to his name in Doha and Munich. However, a bizarre 6-1 6-0 loss to Jan Hajek in his last match is a far from ideal preparation coming into his encounter with the King of Clay.
Rafael Nadal in three sets
Caroline Wozniacki (10) vs Laura Robson Court Suzanne Lenglen
When the draw came out for the Women’s Singles, this match was the one many pointed to for a potential upset with Wozniacki 10th seed to Robson’s unseeded status, at least by the rankings anyway as many bookmakers have Robson as the favourite to win here. Robson’s recent slam performances have shown she has a taste for the big occasion with victories over three slam champs in Petra Kvitova, Na Li and Kim Clijsters in the Australian and US Open’s respectively. A win in Madrid over world no.4 Agnieszka Radwanska will do wonders for her confidence while she should also have added the name of Ana Ivanovic to her list of scalps in the same tournament. Meanwhile, it continues to go badly for Wozniacki who has now lost five matches in a row after a poor performance against Jie Zheng in Brussels. Reports are surfacing that her father and coach Piotr is looking to step down.
Laura Robson in three sets
Tomas Berdych vs Gael Monfils Court Philipp Chatrier
The first match in what looks like a horror draw for Berdych will be one of the highlights of the first round with Berdych a real contender for the final while Monfils showmanship often leads to some entertaining tennis if nothing else. Monfils played back-to-back five setters in Australia, the latter as he was defeated in the third round by Gilles Simon. If Monfils can keep up his level from the past few weeks then it is very possible we could see five but he may run out of steam after recent exploits. A title in Bordeaux Challenger followed by another final in Nice have pushed him back up the rankings but the rush should be halted here. Berdych holds a 3-0 lead in the head to head – only one match has been played on clay but it was a very comprehensive victory for Berdych as he handed out a 6-1 6-1 thrashing last year in Madrid.
Tomas Berdych in four sets
Mona Barthel vs Angelique Kerber Court 2
While Angelique Kerber has posted a highly respectable 21-10 record on the year, she has found it difficult at times with defeats to the likes of Sorana Cirstea and Roberta Vinci quite surprising as well as her opponent and in the first round, Mona Barthel. Her countrywoman just missed out on a seeding by one place at 33 in the rankings, meaning she would be a highly difficult opponent for any potential seed. Barthel actually holds a 2-1 record over Kerber, destroying her 6-1 6-2 in Doha but they are yet to play each other on clay. Defeats for Kerber to Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova on clay aren’t overly worrying, especially when Barthel is in far from ideal form herself with losses in her openers of Miami, Charleston, Madrid and Stuttgart. Whether Barthel can shock Kerber here will largely be dependent on her mindset – she is more than capable ability wise but question marks remain over her mentally when she posts embarrassing losses like that of her 6-1 6-1 defeat to Lauren Davis in the first round of this tournament last year.
Kerber in two sets
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