A possible Nadal-Alcaraz blockbuster and a Murray-Thiem clash in round one: Madrid Masters draw takeaways
Spain’s two superstars could clash in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters
The draw for the Madrid Masters has thrown up some intriguing possibilities and some even more intriguing certainties.
Here’s a few of the things to watch over the next week or so in the Spanish capital.
Nadal v Alcaraz quarter-final blockbuster
There’s a lot that needs to happen before this one is a reality, especially as Nadal comes back from the fractured rib he suffered, ironically, against Alcaraz in Indian Wells.
Since then, Alcaraz has won Miami and Barcelona while Nadal’s been working his way back to fitness after four weeks away. This one could be epic.
Mind you, Nadal knows it won’t be easy to get there. The Spaniard, who turns 36 next month, will face either Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in his opener. And Alcaraz will need to hit the ground running, drawn to begin against either Fabio Fognini or Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Andy Murray v Dominic Thiem in 1st round
You’re making your way back from injury, you decide to enter a Masters 1000 and then you find yourself up against another Grand Slam champion first up.
That’s what both Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem find themselves up against after they were drawn to play each other in the first round of the Madrid Masters.
Thiem is just making his way back from injury, having missed the second half of 2021 and played – and lost – just two matches so far in 2022. The Austrian is short of fitness and confidence and now he gets an Andy Murray, who had initially decided to skip the entire clay-court season but decided, after feeling good in practice, he made a late u-turn to take a wildcard. The pair have met four times on Tour, most recently in 2019. Level at 2-2, Thiem won their only previous clash on clay.
Tough draw for Novak Djokovic
Now we know the draws don’t often work out to plan but if Novak Djokovic wants to win his first title of 2022 he is probably going to have to do it the hard way.
The world No 1 begins against either Gael Monfils or wildcard Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain. Then it’s Murray, Thiem or most likely Denis Shapovalov, the No 14 seed. Then it’s Casper Ruud, according to the seedings, before Nadal or Alcaraz in the semis, and then whoever makes it through from the bottom half, which is led by Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas eyes second straight Masters 1000 on clay
The winner in Monte-Carlo for the second consecutive year, Stefanos Tsitsipas will be gunning for another Masters 1000 title and has avoided most of the big guns by being drawn in the bottom half.
The Greek plays Karen Khachanov or Lucas Pouille in his opening match, could play Diego Schwartzman or Grigor Dimitrov and then Andrey Rublev in the last eight.