The second of three clay Masters events takes place this week in Madrid. It is now a week-and-a-half long event, like Indian Wells and Miami, with 96 players in the main draw and seven rounds (top 32 seeds receive byes). This is also one of the quickest clay tournaments in the calendar, due to Madrid being at altitude, which makes it slightly harder to read as some clay court specialists can struggle here.
Many big names are not here: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner are all missing due to injury, making the field not as strong as usual. In this article I will detail the chances of all of the high seeds as well as some other names who could make a deep run.
The top seed Carlos Alcaraz (10/11) is the heavy favourite to win the title here and it is easy to see why. He beat Nadal and Djokovic to win the event last year, and won Barcelona last week without dropping a set and without really having to play his best tennis. He could face Alex Zverev (16/1) in the Fourth Round, who has an excellent record here having won the event twice and was runner-up to Alcaraz last year. The faster conditions suit him very well thanks to his big serve and groundstrokes, but a loss to O’Connell last week in Munich shows that he is not yet at his best.
Monte Carlo champion Andrey Rublev (33/1) is the other high seed in this quarter. He has a potential opening match against Stan Wawrinka (200/1) who has been playing his best tennis for a while recently. Karen Khachanov (50/1) could face him in the Fourth Round, who Rublev was able to beat in straight sets in Monte Carlo. He did not have to beat Alcaraz to win Monte Carlo, and I think it is unlikely that he does so here.
Casper Ruud (33/1) does have the tennis to challenge the top players, but has not shown it this year. He did win a title in Estoril, but lost in straight sets to Struff in Monte Carlo and Cerundolo in Barcelona. The only time he has won more than one match in an event was that title run in Estoril. Lorenzo Musetti (33/1) could play him in the Fourth Round, and the Italian will fancy his chances given his current form. He beat Djokovic in Monte Carlo and Norrie in Barcelona, and took a set off Tsitsipas. However, due to his big backswings he may not enjoy the quicker conditions.
Holger Rune (20/1) will be a name to look out for if he can overcome injuries sustained in the Munich Final, where he somehow beat van de Zandschulp, saving four match points. He also made the Monte Carlo Final, beating Medvedev and Sinner along the way, so the Dane comes into this event in great form. These faster conditions may also suit someone like Rune who likes to play first-strike tennis.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (33/1) has had a very underwhelming year so far by his standards, after improving a lot last year in many areas of his game. He also missed Monte Carlo with a knee injury, so this will be his first clay event of the year. The quicker conditions suit him however, so he could be a danger if he can get through the first few rounds unscathed, but a first match against the in-form Dusan Lajovic (150/1) is a shocking draw. Francisco Cerundolo (50/1), who has been playing well recently, and Houston winner Frances Tiafoe (50/1) are potential Fourth Round opponents.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (9/1) is the favourite to get to the Final from this half, and has the clay court pedigree with a French Open Final appearance and two Monte Carlo titles in recent years. His form has been suspect of late though, he cited a shoulder issue for early losses in Indian Wells and Miami, and has since been thrashed by Fritz in Monte Carlo. He did make the Final in Barcelona last week, but lost to Alcaraz comfortably. Dominic Thiem (50/1) could make life awkward for the Greek in his opening match, and Tommy Paul (100/1) awaits in the Fourth Round.
Taylor Fritz (33/1) has impressed so far on the clay, beating Tsitsipas easily in Monte Carlo and making the Semi Finals, moving better than usual and being very patient in the rallies. These faster conditions should really suit his aggressive gamestyle and big serve. Cameron Norrie (33/1) could face him in the Fourth Round, who won’t make life easy for him.
2nd seed Daniil Medvedev (11/1) has had a poor record on clay throughout his career, and was forced to miss most of the European clay swing last year due to injury. However, these faster conditions should suit the Russian’s game more than a traditional clay court, due to his serve being more effective and him being able to use the opposition’s pace against them. But his movement is not as good on clay as it is on hard, and his flat groundstrokes can sit up to be attacked off on clay. Andy Murray (100/1) is not an ideal first opponent. Jiri Lehecka (50/1) has been playing brilliant tennis this year and currently sits 15th in the Race to Turin. His aggressive gamestyle should suit these conditions down to a T, and there is definitely upset potential if he faces Medvedev in the Third Round. Based on his level so far this year, there is no reason why the Czech can’t have a deep run in Madrid.
We have also recorded a podcast discussing the event, our First Round picks and our best value outright tips, the link to listen is below!