Saturday, 4 May 2013

ATP Madrid: Preview and Predictions

Let's take a look at the mens draw where the top eight players all have byes into round two.

FIRST QUARTER - N.Djokovic (1) v J.W.Tsonga (7)
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic will arrive in Madrid full of confidence following a first win in four match-ups over Rafael Nadal in the Monte-Carlo final.  His draw in Madrid certainly has its obstacles.  In the second round, he will play Javier Marti or Grigor Dimitrov; Dimitrov has ran three of the big four pretty close this year, including Djokovic at Indian Wells.  Dimitrov showed all his talent, but struggled mentally in closing out the first set of their 3rd round encounter.  Djokovic is projected to meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round, which would see a repeat of their barnstorming 4th round match at the Aussie Open, which remains the best match on the ATP tour this year.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also has a tough draw and could face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round.  Dolgo has not been at his best recently, but has a leading head-to-head over Tsonga including a win last year in Madrid.  This could open the door for Milos Raonic who did really well to make the semi-finals in Barcelona before getting hammered by Rafael Nadal.  Raonic takes on Nikolay Davydenko in the first round.

1st Round Predictions: Raonic to beat Davydenko in 3 sets and Goffin to beat Verdasco in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Predictions - N.Djokovic v M.Raonic

SECOND QUARTER - A.Murray (3) V T.Berdych (6)
Andy Murray had a tough time of it in Monte-Carlo as he was handed a beating by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round.  He has a favourable draw in Madrid, which he skipped last year due to injury.  First up will be either Thomasz Bellucci or Florian Mayer before a potential third rounder against Gilles Simon, which is one to avoid really, if it does happen.

Tomas Berdych's form, like Murray, has not hit the ground running on clay with early exits in both Monte-Carlo and Madrid.  However I think he has been dealing with a shoulder injury and I hold more hope for him this week.  In the second round, he will play Sam Querrey or Jerzy Janowicz, one of the more enticing of the first rounders.  Janko Tipsarevic is seeded to meet Berdych in round three, but he meets the improving, Juan Monaco in round one and that should mean curtains for Tipsy, who is just not relevant at the moment.  Kevin Anderson also lurks in this section and it will be interesting to see what he can do on the clay following a great start to the year on hard courts.

1st Round Predictions: Mayer to beat Bellucci in 3 sets, Chardy to beat Zeballos in 2 sets, Simon to beat Benneteau in 2 sets, Monaco to beat Tipsarevic in 2 tight sets and Querrey to beat Janowicz in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - A.Murray v T.Berdych

THIRD QUARTER - R.Nadal (5) V D.Ferrer (4)
David Ferrer

Rafael Nadal turns up in Madrid having made the final of all six tournaments he has played since making his comeback to the tour in February.  His draw should pass through some of the players he defeated in Barcelona; first up will be a qualifier or Benoit Paire and then potentially a Barcelona final rematch with Nicolas Almagro in the third round.  Nadal will certainly be looking for revenge over Djokovic in the final, but it won't be plain sailing.

David Ferrer has certainly had a shaky start to the clay court season with a second round exit in Barcelona and although he has made the final in Oeiras, he has been pushed to three sets by players such as Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Victor Hanescu, who he should be beating comfortably.  He takes on Denis Istomin or a qualifier in the second round.  A duo of interesting first round matches between Tommy Haas and Andreas Seppi, and Marcos Baghdatis and Tommy Robredo will be battling to meet Ferrer in round three... i'll go for Robredo.

1st Round Predictions: Fognini to beat Youzhny in 3 sets, Haas to beat Seppi in 3 sets and Robredo to beat Baghdatis in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Predictions - R.Nadal v D.Ferrer

FOURTH QUARTER - R.Gasquet (8) V R.Federer (2)
Roger Federer makes his long-awaited comeback to the tour having not played since losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of Indian Wells.  He won't be too pleased to see Nadal on his half of the draw for a potential semi-final clash.  Federer will play Bernard Tomic or Radek Stepanek in the second round before probably meeting Kei Nishikori in the round of 16.  Federer won Madrid last year having taken a six week break so he is definitely capable of doing it although his 2013 has been lacklustre compared to what we have come to expect.  He is currently residing outside of the top eight on the race rankings for 2013 at number 10...

Richard Gasquet has had a very good start to the 2013 season and certainly should be making the quarter-finals here.  His first match will be against a Spaniard, either Feliciano Lopez or Daniel Gimeno-Traver.  In the third round, the highest ranked players he could meet would be Marin Cilic or John Isner.  Gasquet took out Cilic in Monte-Carlo and the Croatian player suffered an early exit in Munich so the odds are definitely stacked in Gasquet's favour to make at least the last eight.

1st Round Predictions: Lopez to beat Gimeno-Traver in 3 sets, Cilic to beat Andujar in 3 sets, Nishikori to beat Melzer in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy), Troicki to beat Granollers in 3 sets and Stepanek to beat Tomic in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - R.Gasquet v R.Federer

Final Prediction - R.Nadal d. N.Djokovic

I had no difficulties in picking my final, but really couldn't decide on the outcome.  In the end, I have gone for Nadal over Djokovic.  The world number one was stunning in Monte-Carlo, meanwhile Nadal did not play at his best.  I think there is definitely an opportunity for their games to level out and I would expect a three setter if they did meet.  Nadal also has a string of matches from Barcelona under his belt and following two years where Djokovic dominated all clashes in 2011 and Nadal dominated them in 2012, I think 2013 will be the year where there is little to call between the pair...

You can view my full predictions for ATP Madrid HERE

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