Madrid Masters: With Djokovic's unexpected withdrawal, will Rafa hold sway?
Such is the unpredictable nature of tennis that one never knows when one’s in for the next surprise. Novak Djokovic’s near-11th hour withdrawal from the Madrid Masters has been one surprise that has not only thrown open the rankings scenario wide open, but has also opened newer possibilities in a quite skewed draw.
First Quarter: The first quarter of the Madrid Masters draw contains the likes of 12th seed Grigor Dimitrov, 14th seed Tommy Haas and 6th seed Tomas Berdych, apart from the top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal. Unlike last year, where the Spaniard was riding a wave of resurgence in the clay season following his nine-month long absence due to injuries, this season he has looked quite tentative and slow-paced. By his own admission, his two losses at Monte Carlo and Barcelona have shaken his confidence, which makes him even more susceptible at Madrid.
The Spaniard will take on either Jurgen Melzer or Juan Monaco in the second round. Rafa’s third round match-up could get slightly trickier with Tommy Haas as a potential opponent, followed by a quarter-final match-up either against an in-form Dimitrov or Oeiras finalist Berdych.
Second Quarter: 4th seed Roger Federer and 7th seed Andy Murray feature prominently in this quarter that also contains 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Barcelona semi-finalist Nicolas Almagro. Murray, who’s making his season’s clay court debut at Madrid, will begin his campaign against the winner of the Golubev-Almagro first-round match-up. If he were to get past that, he has a possible third round encounter against Tsonga in the offing.
Federer, on the other hand, will play his second round match against the victor of the Benoit Paire-Gilles Simon first round encounter. Fernando Verdasco and Andreas Seppi will take on each other in the first round with the winner taking on Roberto Bautista-Agut in the second round, rounding it off with a third round against Federer. This quartet is the simplest of all the four quarters and one should expect a Federer-Murray quarter-final without too many problems for either until then.
Potential Semi-final: Rafa Nadal v/s Roger Federer – Rafa to win in three sets
Top Quarter: Milos Raonic, seeded 8th, figures in this quarter which also has 3rd seed Stanislas Wawrinka, 10th seed Kei Nishikori, 15th seed Mikhail Youzhny, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Dominic Thiem. Raonic will take on Jeremy Chardy in the second round. The Canadian has a possible third round match against Nishikori with a potential quarter-final against Stan Wawrinka.
Speaking of the Swiss, Wawrinka will open his Madrid Masters against the winner of the Dmitry Tursunov-Dominic Thiem match. His possible third round opponent is Youzhny, though with the likes of Federico Delbonis and Feliciano Lopez looming in the Russian’s path, its hard to discount a few upsets.
Second Quarter: Ostensibly missing 2nd seed Novak Djokovic, who’s nursing his injured wrist, this quarter has 5th seed David Ferrer, 9th seed John Isner, 13th seed Fabio Fognini and the unseeded mavericks Marin Cilic, Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz and Alexandr Dolgopolov. Djokovic’s empty spot has been filled by Paul Henri-Mathieu who qualified into the main draw defeating Ryan Harrison.
Ferrer will take on either compatriot Albert Ramos or Nicholas Mahut in his second round match with a possible third round against Teimuraz Gabashvili, who recently upset him at the Barcelona Open. While it is still expected that Ferrer will make it to the quarter-final, its predicting his opponent that’s become more difficult with quite interesting initial match-ups between Ernests Gulbis and Jerzy Janowicz, Fabio Fognini and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. Unfortunately, only one of these guys will
advance further to possibly meet Marin Cilic in the third round. There’s no dearth of intrigue in this quarter.
Potential Semi-final: David Ferrer v/s Fabio Fognini – Fognini to win in three sets.
Potential Final: Rafa to win over Fognini in straight sets.