The first round match between Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet is a contest of comebacks. Federer is making his comeback on clay after three years whereas Gasquet is playing his first tournament of the year after undergoing a successful operation for a groin injury.
Earlier in the first round, Gasquet survived a scare against the young Spanish player Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as he defeated him in two tight sets, 7-5, 7-6. That win would have given a bit of confidence for Gasquet before facing the Swiss Maestro.
Gasquet ended his 2018 season after two semifinal appearances in Tokyo and Antwerp, and then announced that he was suffering from a serious groin injury. He couldn't even compete in the Davis Cup final, where his team France lost to Croatia.
Fortunately he has recovered well in time for the French Open, and he will try to compete as hard as he can in Madrid..
Federer on his part wouldn't want to take Gasquet lightly even though he has a record of 17 wins out of 19 matches against the Frenchman. Importantly, both of Gasquet's wins over Federer have come on clay.
Gasquet is well-accustomed to the bounce and pace of claycourts, as opposed to the Swiss who didn't even practise on the surface in 2017 and 2018. Federer would need to adapt to the conditions quickly here in Madrid, as he didn't have a practice tournament on clay before it either.
That said, if Federer gets into his groove early enough, he will likely have too much firepower and variety for the Frenchman. For Gasquet to be able to create a major upset, he has to pounce on Federer's backhand and take advantage of his second serve, while the Swiss is still getting used to the surface and the bounce.
Match prediction: Roger Federer to wins in two setsPublished 07 May 2019, 19:49 IST