The fourth Masters 1000 event of the year begins on Sunday at Caja Magica, Madrid. Rafael Nadal will hope to defend his title at the Mutua Madrid Open, looking to end what has been a slump by his very high standards. He defeated Stanislas Wawrinka last year in straight sets as part of a 22 match winning run that was capped with the French Open title. Wawrinka ended a run of 9 Masters events where either Nadal or Djokovic were the winner by defeating Roger Federer at Monte Carlo.
Check out the Full Draw Here: ATP Madrid Masters 2014 Draw
Rafael Nadal hasn’t quite dominated this tournament like he has the other two clay Masters events but does have three titles, one of which came when the event was played on hard courts. Losses to David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro suggest all is not well with Nadal with huge head to head records been flipped on their head in these two matches. Nadal begins his defence against the winner of Jurgen Melzer and Juan Monaco. Neither player is in all that great form with Melzer losing a third set tie break to Ricardas Berankis in Munich this past week. Monaco leads the head to head 6-1 although they last played on clay in 2007. Robin Haase should see off Jarkko Niemenen in their first clay meeting and could fancy his chances of a shock against Tommy Haas in a potential round two. The German struggled with serving in his Munich loss to Martin Klizan and could be caught cold once more. Haas must first defeat a qualifier that could include the likes of Santiago Giraldo and Dominic Thiem.
Tomas Berdych famously defeated Nadal in Madrid in 2006 before taunting the crowd and has not defeated the Spaniard since, losing 15 straight. Should they meet in the quarter finals, it will be one of his best chances for a while given Nadal’s perceived vulnerability right now. The Czech will be hoping Kevin Anderson can defeat Radek Stepanek due to his 10-0 record over the South African. Grigor Dimitrov is in good form right now and will pose a tough test for Berdych, having already won twice against him in his career. Dimitrov will either face two wildcards in a row or two Spaniards. He faces Pablo Carreno Busta in round one while Marcel Granollers will play Romania’s Marius Copil for the right to play the winner.
Roger Federer is also a three times winner here including in 2009, his last clay victory over Nadal. The Swiss looks much improved after a shaky 2013 as he seeks to make a third Masters final of the year. His quarter looks the kindest of the bunch with a Frenchman first up. Benoit Paire retired down 4-6 1-5 in his last outing but will be confident of advancing if fit given his 3-1 record over Gilles Simon. Federer has won his last three against Simon, including a five setter at last year’s French Open. With Andreas Seppi out of form, Fernando Verdasco should make it an all-Spaniard match in round two against Tommy Robredo or Roberto Bautista Agut. Robredo will be disappointed in his early exit in Barcelona having held a lead in the deciding set tiebreak. He is 4-0 against Verdasco on clay and 6-5 overall.
Nicolas Almagro has a great chance of advancing to the quarter finals with two seeds in his section ripe for the taking. He plays a qualifier first with Andy Murray up for the winner. Murray’s clay results are well documented and it will be his first tournament after choosing to forgo Monte Carlo. Almagro unsurprisingly failed to back up his momentous win over Nadal by losing to Santiago Giraldo in the next round in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is 13-7 on the year but will have a familiar opponent in round one. He looks to make it 6-0 against Edouard Roger-Vasselin in round one with Lleyton Hewitt or a qualifier waiting in round two.
Stanislas Wawrinka showcased some outstanding tennis on his way to the Monte Carlo title, taking advantage of Nadal and Djokovic’s exits to add his first Masters title to his Australian Open. Wawrinka had been in a mini-slump post-Melbourne but soon got out of it in Monaco, defeating Federer in the final. With increased success comes more pressure but his No.3 ranking eases some draw pressure. Dmitry Tursunov cannot do any worse this week after losing 6-0 6-0 in Oeiras to Rui Machado. He plays a qualifier first while Mikhail Youzhny will do the same. Youzhny has lost all three matches on clay this year but should end that streak. The winner plays either Federico Delbonis or Feliciano Lopez. Both players lost early in Munich, although Delbonis did win a round first – defeating Nikolay Davydenko.
While he was fortunate to avoid Nadal in Barcelona, there is no doubting Kei Nishikori was impressive in Barcelona as he picked up his second ATP 500 title. It is just his misfortune with injuries that see him yet to break the top 10. A quarter final with Wawrinka provides plenty of intrigue but he will have to likely see if Milos Raonic in round three first. Dodig should be straight forward enough for the Japanese but Pablo Andujar defeated Nishikori at this event last year, denying him a semi final spot. Meanwhile, Raonic plays the winner of Lukas Rosol and Jeremy Chardy. Rosol surprisingly made the final in Bucharest, meaning the ranking points hit for failing to defend his 2013 title was the least severe possible.
Novak Djokovic has just announced his withdrawal from the tournament. His participation was always in doubt due to the wrist injury that visibly affected him in Monte Carlo defeat to Roger Federer. Should he have competed, he would have faced a murderers row of talented but unpredictable players on his way to the quarter finals. Marin Cilic is likely first up – the Croatian won the first set 6-1 against Djokovic in Indian Wells before falling in three this year. Alexandr Dolgopolov seeks to make it 5-1 against Fabio Fognini while Ernests Gulbis plays Jerzy Janowicz to cap off some thrilling opening round ties in the Spanish capital. David Ferrer will look to take full advantage of the Djokovic withdrawal. Albert Ramos or Nicolas Mahut should pose little danger while both John Isner and Philipp Kohlschreiber have poor records against Ferrer. The pair will play qualifiers with the winners meeting in round two. Isner is 4-2 against the German and 4-0 in best of three matches.
SF: Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer
SF: Stanislas Wawrinka def. Alexandr Dolgopolov
F: Rafael Nadal def. Stanislas Wawrinka