Madrid Masters 2019: What will a 'good performance' constitute for Federer, Nadal and Djokovic?
The 2019 Madrid Masters is a special one; after a long gap, the tennis fans will be able to see the big three of modern tennis – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – in a clay tournament. Considering that the French Open is not far away, a good performance here will be of utmost importance for the Big 3.
But what exactly is a good performance for each of the three at the Madrid Masters? For Federer, a title here is unlikely. However, a deep run will give him confidence going into the clay Major.
Many expect Federer to meet his match in the quarterfinal itself, if he happens to meet the Barcelona Open champion Dominic Thiem at that stage. In fact, if he loses against Thiem there, that will not be as devastating a result as it may have been at any other tournament.
This is Federer’s first tournament on clay in years, and a quarterfinal loss against one of the best claycourt players going around is certainly not tantamount to a calamitous one. And if he somehow manages to go any further, that will take his confidence sky-high.
For Djokovic, the Madrid Masters holds a lot of significance considering the fact that his form has dipped alarmingly after his third straight Major title at the Australian Open earlier this year. He has failed to win any title since then, and has suffered shockingly early losses in some of them.
Djokovic is on a quest for winning a fourth Grand Slam on the trot for the second time in his career, a feat neither of his famous adversaries has managed. Moreover, a second title at the French Open will make him the only player since Rod Laver to have won each Grand Slam at least twice.
A good performance at the Madrid Masters will bring Djokovic's season back on track. In 2016 his win at Madrid had propelled him to the French Open title, and he will certainly hope for a repeat this time.
However, after the disappointing early round losses in previous tournaments, a final appearance should be considered a good result for him.
It is the 'King of Clay' for whom this Madrid Masters is the most important. For once, Nadal has failed to be his dominant self in the clay season. At Monte Carlo and Barcelona, where he has collected 11 titles each, the Spaniard lost out at the semifinal stage.
Nothing short of a title run will assuage the fears that Nadal is no longer the man to beat on clay. Another failure to win a title on clay would not only hurt his confidence, but would also give his adversaries, especially Djokovic, Federer and Thiem, the hope to lay siege to Nadal’s fort in Paris.