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Five key storylines to watch for at the ATP Madrid Masters

The ATP Madrid Open gets underway at La Caja Magica on Sunday and here are the key storylines around Nadal, Zverev, Thiem and Murray to follow from Madrid

Rafael Nadal of Spain practices during the Mutua Madrid Open 2022 Rafael Nadal of Spain practices during the Mutua Madrid Open 2022 Image Credit: Zuma / Panoramic

The second clay-court ATP Masters 1000 of the season gets underway in Madrid on Sunday and the major buzz around the tournament centres around Rafael Nadal. For all the talk that Madrid does not suit Nadal’s game, the Spaniard is still the most successful player in the history of the tournament. Here are some key storylines to follow over the next eight days, presented in partnership with Opta Facts.

Nadal has won more titles than any other player in Madrid

Rafael Nadal is a five-time champion at the Mutua Madrid Masters (2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017). Rafa has also reached the final on three other occasions: 2009 (lost to Roger Federer), 2011 (lost to Novak Djokovic) and 2015 (lost to Andy Murray).

Despite the talk that the conditions in Madrid are not favourable for the Spaniard, Nadal still has more titles than any other player there.

Behind him are Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, both the G.O.A.T. contenders have won the Madrid title three times.

Nadal is the player with the most wins at the Madrid Masters

Nadal has also won more matches than any other player in the 20-year history of the tournament. The Spaniard has scored 63 match wins in Madrid and will aim to make it 64 when he plays either Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik in the second round of the 2022 edition.

Zverev hoping to defend title and follow in Nadal’s footsteps

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev

Last year, Nadal’s chase for a sixth Madrid Masters title came to an end at the hands of Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. Zverev went on to win the title and in 2022, the German is hoping to become only the second player to win back-to-back titles in Madrid after Nadal (2013-2014).

Thiem is the only player to reach more than one Madrid Masters final but never won the title

Dominic Thiem - Madrid Open - 2021
Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem, whose favourite surface is clay, has reached the Madrid Masters final on two occasions – 2017 (lost to Nadal) and 2018 (lost to Alexander Zverev). That makes him the only player to reach more than one Madrid final without winning the title.

In 2022, the Austrian holds a 0-3 record in his comeback after a nine-month injury lay off and will be hoping his past success will help him pull off his first win of the season.

Thiem vs Murray: Chapter V

However, the draw gods have not been too kind to the former US Open champion, throwing up a blockbuster first-round showdown between Thiem and former world No 1 Andy Murray, champion in Madrid in 2008 and 2015.

The two have squared off four times in the past with Murray winning the first two encounters (2014 and 2015 on hard courts, both times in three sets) while Thiem won the most recent two (Barcelona on clay in 2017 and Beijing on hard in 2019).

With both players trying to make a comeback to top-level tennis, the fifth chapter of their rivalry promises to be an exciting encounter.

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