No Nadal, No Djokovic. Can Alcaraz be stopped? | Sports activities


Ion Tiriac, proprietor of the Mutua Madrid Open, has made no secret of his need to show his event into one thing as near a Grand Slam occasion as doable. In 2009, he moved it from the autumn to the extra related spring, made it dual-gender, supplied sky-high—and equal—prize cash, and lobbied to make it a two-week occasion. Fourteen years later, he has practically achieved his objective. Like its fellow 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami, Madrid now occupies near a fortnight on the tour’s calendars.

What it doesn’t have, nevertheless, is the game’s two most well-known energetic gamers, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The ailing Huge 2 are all in regards to the majors at this stage of their careers, and regardless of Tiriac’s greatest efforts, Madrid nonetheless isn’t one in all them.

Rafa and Djokovic apart, although, the sector is a full one, and, at practically $9 million, the prize cash is fairly eye-popping, too. Right here’s a take a look at what we are able to anticipate on the lads’s aspect in Madrid over the following two weeks.

First Quarter

Coming into Madrid a yr in the past, we knew Carlos Alcaraz was good. When he went out and beat Nadal and Djokovic again to again, and gained the title, we knew he was probably all-time good. Twelve months later, he hasn’t executed something to make us change our minds. He’s the highest seed, the No. 2 participant on the earth, and he has a gaudy 23-2 document and three titles this season. Add to that the truth that he’ll be taking part in on a floor he loves, in entrance of his home-country followers, and it’s a must to make Carlitos the heavy favourite to repeat. If he reaches the quarterfinals, he’ll even play a match on his 20th birthday.

Is there anybody on this quarter who can maintain Alcaraz from ruining the get together? The three seeds close by are Grigor Dimitrov, Sebastian Korda and Alexander Zverev. Of these three, Zverev, who beat Alcaraz at Roland Garros final yr and is a two-time champion in Madrid, appears to be probably the most harmful. On the opposite aspect of this quarter, Andrey Rublev is the very best seed within the quarter. He’s been on run this spring, and has by no means performed Alcaraz.

First-round match to observe: Stan Wawrinka vs. Maxime Cressy

Semifinalist: Alcaraz

Second Quarter

Casper Ruud and Holger Rune are the highest two seeds right here, and a quarterfinal assembly between these Scandinavian antagonists (Scantagonists?) could be spicy. What are the probabilities we see it?

Proper now, it’s the lower-ranked Rune who’s in higher type. He’s 8-1, with a title and a runner-up end through the clay swing. Ruud additionally has a clay title, in Estoril, however that’s the uncommon spotlight in a middling yr for a participant who made two Slam finals in 2022. Ruud was a semifinalist in Madrid two years in the past, however Rune’s extra muscular sport fashion could also be higher suited to the quick circumstances there.

Additionally right here: Lorenzo Musetti and 2022 quarterfinalist Hubert Hurkacz

Semifinalist: Rune

Third Quarter

We all know Alcaraz and Djokovic shall be favorites at Roland Garros, and Nadal if he’s wholesome sufficient to play. However what about that different clay standout of latest years, Stefanos Tsitsipas? He was one set from the title in Paris two years in the past, and he appears to have lastly recovered from the shoulder damage he developed in Australia in January. Tsitsipas needed to be inspired by his journey to the Barcelona remaining final week, however discouraged by his straight-set loss to a clearly superior Alcaraz on Sunday.

Tsitsipas is the very best seed on this quarter, and would appear to have a manageable path to the semifinals. The three close by seeds are Sebastian Baez, Tommy Paul and Dan Evans, and the very best seed within the quarter is Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian was a quarterfinalist in Madrid final yr, however a knee damage has saved him out since Miami.

People to observe: Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Ben Shelton, Mackenzie McDonald, Marcos Giron. The Madrid clay ought to be a little bit extra hospitable to their hard-court-based video games than it’s in different places.

Potential second-round match to observe: Tsitsipas vs. Dominic Thiem

Semifinalist: Tsitsipas

Fourth Quarter

Daniil Medvedev is the largest query mark on this draw. On the plus aspect, he has been probably the most constant participant on tour in 2023, with a 31-Four document and 4 titles. The marginally faster circumstances in Madrid also needs to, in principle, favor his flat ball-striking. However then there’s the minus aspect. Medvedev has by no means gained a title on clay, and has by no means reached the quarterfinals in Madrid. He additionally might now not be driving the momentum that carried him by way of February and March.

How Medvedev does right here might depend upon his perspective to the floor and to this a part of the season. Is he invested in it? On paper, he’s the perfect participant on this quarter. The seeds nearest him are Jiri Lehecka, Botic Van de Zandschulp, and Alex de Minaur; the 2 highest seeds within the different half are Taylor Fritz and Cam Norrie.

Talking of Fritz, he’s coming off semifinals runs in Monte Carlo and Munich, and he ought to just like the serve-friendly circumstances in Madrid much more.

Potential second-round match to observe: Medvedev vs. Andy Murray

Semifinalist: Fritz

Semifinals: Alcaraz d. Rune; Tsitsipas d. Fritz

Ultimate: Alcaraz d. Tsitsipas.


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