Even without Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Juan Martin Del Potro (have missed anyone), the Madrid Tennis Masters draw still looks pretty darn good.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling are your top four seeds in that order with Andy Roddick at No. 5. So let’s crack this draw open.
Federer’s section is quite loaded with talent and with names. After a bye the Swiss will either Benjamin Becker or former No. 1 Carlos Moya who received a wildcard. In the third round Fed could get his dangerous countryman and fellow father Stan Wawrinka and in the quarterfinals things could get even more interesting. Looming are Andy Roddick, Mikhail Youhzny and one Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis has no easy road to a Roger rematch, however. The Latvian has Albert Montanes, then Youzhny and then possibly Roddick.
Two players who have been struggling recently – Andy Murray and Marin Cilic – anchor the second quarter. David Ferrer, who’s had a great clay season, is perhaps the money guy. He opens against Jeremy Chardy and could run into Cilic in the third round before Murray in the quarters. Murray looks to have an easy opener with either Igor Andreev or Sam Querrery in the third round.
Fernando Verdasco is the class of the third quarter. Hot Sauce will get either Evgeny Koralev or Ivo Karlovic in first match. Then Tomas Berdych or David Nalbandian (who’s back!) in the third round with Tomaz Bellucci, Nicolas Almagro or Robin Soderling among the possibles in the quarterfinals. Verdasco’s really been the No. 2 guy this clay season and in Madrid I don’t think he’ll disappoint.
Nadal looks in good shape with Andreas Seppi to start, then big John Isner (a finalist in Estoril) and then likely JW Tsonga. Both Isner and Tsonga are power players who should benefit from the Madrid altitude, but it’s hard to see Nadal losing to either of them on his home soil. And with Djokovic out if he wins Madrid he’ll be the No. 2 seed at the French Open.
So by seedings the fourth round looks like: 1 Federer v. 15 Wawrinka, 10 Youzhny v. 5 Roddick, 3 Murray v. 14 Querrery, 9 Ferrer v. 8 Cilic. Bottom half: 6 Verdasco v. 11 Berdych, 16 Bellucci v. 4 Soderling, 7 Tsonga v. 12 Monfils and 13 Isner v. 2 Nadal.
QFs: Federer v. Roddick, Murray v. Cilic, Verdasco v. Soderling, Tsonga v. Nadal.
SFs: Federer v. Murray, Soderling v. Nadal.
As for my picks. If it’s clay it’s Nadal. And I think he beats Ferrer in the final with Verdasco and perhaps Roddick reaching the semifinals. Spain’s been dominant this clay season and now they will bring it home.
Have at it.
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