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Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal under pressure, but still the favourite

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, the top seeds at the Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, the top seeds at the Madrid Open

Madrid, May 4 (IANS): Tennis star Rafael Nadal will again be the favourite when the big names begin their matches in the Madrid Open here Monday.

The Spaniard is the top seed despite a recent slump in form which has seen him lose to fellow Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro in Monte Carlo and Barcelona respectively. But he can count on unconditional support from the stands at the Caja Magica, where he has already been champion on three occasions, reports Xinhua.

“Spain is my country and every time I play in any tournament here it is something special. The crowd always make a big difference here,” said Nadal Sunday.

Nadal could be knocked off the top of the world rankings if he fails to reach the last eight and Novak Djokovic is crowned champion. But the Serb is still doubtful with a wrist injury and won’t make a decision on whether he will play the tournament until late Sunday.

Meanwhile Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, the latter of whom won in Monte Carlo, could also pose a threat. The ever-elegant Federer continues to defy the passing years, while David Ferrer will also count on strong home support.

Serena Williams is the No. 1 seed in women’s singles and comes to Madrid to defend the title she has won with ease over the past two years. She is back in competition after taking a month off, citing fatigue after a defeat at Charleston.

“I had just been playing for such a long time non-stop. It was actually really good for me to get that off. I feel really good and very positive.”

Agnieszka Radwanska is the third seed while Maria Sharapova looks to continue improving her form after recently defeating Ana Ivanovic in the Stuttgart final.

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