Madrid Men’s Preview: Nadal Avoids Djokovic Quarter, Draws Ferrer; Federer Returns For Title Defense
by Sean Randall | May 3rd, 2013
  • 76 Comments

On a somber day in the tennis world with the passing of ATP CEO Brad Drewett, the tournament in Madrid recognized the tour chief with a moment of silence before making the men’s draw. And the field is stacked with only Juan Martin Del Potro missing due to that virus.

Defending champion Roger Federer returns after a six week layoff. Novak Djokovic is the hot man fresh off his improbable Monte Carlo win and Rafael Nadal is always a favorite on this clay surface. But with Rafa ranked down at No. 5, the real intrigue of the draw was in which quarter would Nadal land. And as luck would have it for Nadal he fell in David Ferrer’s section (bad luck for David) and on the opposite side of Novak. So essentially it became a non-story for now (had Rafa been top four he still could have drawn Ferrer).

As for the entirety of the draw, Djokovic is on top of a very tricky section. After a bye, he’ll likely play the blossoming Grigor Dimitrov in his opener, then the dangerous Stan Wawrinka before the streaky JW Tsonga in the quarters. Tsonga will have to contend with Fernando Verdasco, who upset Nadal in Madrid a year ago, plus Milos Raonic and his first round opponent Nikolay Davydenko. It’s a tough quarter but I think Novak comes through.

Andy Murray and Tomas Berdcyh are the heavyweights in the second section. Murray, who’s never been to a clay final, thankfully won’t have to worry about any real strong claycourters in his path early. There is former Madrid semifinalist Tomaz Bellucci and Horacia Zeballos, but there not elite dirtballers. Murray should get through Gilles Simon in the third and then knock out 2012 finalist Berdych in the quarters. Berdych will have his hands full with Jerzy Janowicz or Sam Querrey in his opener before a date with Juan Monaco who collides with the struggling Janko Tipsarevic, a semifinalist last year, in one of the best first rounders. On second thought, I’ll take Monaco over Berdych to play Murray. And in an upset I’ll take the Argentine.

Moving to the bottom half. Rafa’s section is heavy on the clay specialists with Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Fabio Fognini. It’s a tough quadrant but one I expect Rafa to get through. He’ll likely have Fognini at the start, then Almagro followed by Ferrer who’ll probably have to get through a tough Tommy Haas-Andreas Seppi winner.

In what is a pretty comfortable section, Federer opens his title defense against Radek Stepanek or Bernard Tomic. In the third round I think he gets Kei Nishikori, who beats Jurgen Melzer in a tough opener, then in the quarters maybe Marin Cilic. I’ll take the Croat to work his magic again against John Isner in the second then upset Richard Gasquet in the third. Cilic has a big game and in the light air he should do well.

So my semifinals look like: Djokovic v. Monaco, Nadal v. Federer. And as of now I think Rafa gets his revenge on Novak a week from Sunday.

A few things though. The surface has returned to red so players should be much more comfortable this year compared to last when they were slipping all over. That should help the movers like Rafa. But, Madrid is still at altitude so big servers like Isner, Raonic and Feliciano Lopez can do some damage like they have in the past. And if those power hardcourt guys wanted to make some noise on the clay, this is the tournament to do it

And there are a lot of nice early round matches. Raonic-Davydenko, Goffin-Verdasco, Chardy-Zeballos, Benneteau-Simon, Tipsarevic-Monaco, Querrey-Janowicz, Haas-Seppi, Baghdatis-Robredo, Nishikori-Melzer, Stepanek-Tomic.

Of the Big Four, the most vulnerable is Murray. Federer’s won this title before, Murray didn’t play last year and lost in the third round the year before. And he didn’t look great at Monte Carlo. So with the dissimilar conditions to the French (altitude), he might not be as committed to winning in Madrid. We’ll see.

And really, Federer could lose early even to Stepanek. I could see Djokovic losing to Wawrinka. But after last year and after Monte Carlo, I don’t see Rafa losing again.

Matches begin on Sunday. Tennis Channel should start up on Monday.


Also Check Out:
Wimbledon Men’s Draw Preview: Nadal Falls With Federer, Murray In Quarter Of Death
US Open Draws: Women’s Singles Preview
US Open Men’s Draw: Nadal v Federer Quarter; Murray Looking Good In First Slam Defense
Montreal Draw Preview: Djokovic Draws Nadal, Del Potro In Murray Quarter
Indian Wells Men’s Preview: Will Nadal Beat Murray, Federer And Djokovic To Defend Title?

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76 Comments for Madrid Men’s Preview: Nadal Avoids Djokovic Quarter, Draws Ferrer; Federer Returns For Title Defense

Humble Rafa Says:

Title defense?

Oh OK..I see.


contador Says:

I agree, Sean.

Picking Nadal to win this time. I picked Nadal in MonteCarlo and that worked out perfect! thanks

Ajde Nole!


the DA Says:

Interesting. Monaco? Hmmm….


Steve 27 Says:

Rome is more important than Madrid, but is the last chance for Nadal to return to top 4


Steve 27 Says:

Before Roland Garros, of course.


Ahsan Najeeb Says:

How many of us thought that Nadal was going to land in Ferrer’s quarter… Is it just coincidence or an effort by the organizersto retain the big names in the tournament for as late as they can.. Secondly, I am relieved that Sean picked Rafa to win again. Nole and Roger are safe from the jinx :p


Ben Pronin Says:

If there was a clay tournament where I’d actually expect Djokovic to beat Nadal, it’s Madrid. He choked in 09 then got him pretty good in 11. I don’t see Nadal getting revenge here. And who knows? Maybe Federer will channel his 09 win.

I don’t think Monaco beats Murray, or even gets there. He’s playing awful and a fast clay court won’t suit him well. Bellucci, however, could play spoiler. Although he’s playing horrendous as of late. Zeballos not an elite? Sure, but he can play. Nadal’s quarter is a joke. Mainly because it’s Nadal and it’s filled with his compatriots. Cake walk.


Sean Randall Says:

Ben, true. Madrid doesn’t help Rafa. But I think he’ll be extremely motivated to win there. He can’t lose the first two clay Masters to Novak and expect the have the upper hand in Paris.

I originally had Murray winning, but someone among the Big Four is going to fall before the semis. I think Murray’s that guy.


mat4 Says:

The draw is simply perfect, as usual. I guess it will be the same in Paris for the top four. Sorry, it probably won’t be possible if Murray is ranked no2, which means Roger would land in Novak’s half, Rafa in David’s quarter in Murray’s half.

Novak has an excellent draw to lose early or win the tournament. I could bet that if DelPo was playing, he would have been in his quarter, at least in his half.

Anyway, a good opportunity for Novak to improve his game and have good matches.


Wog boy Says:

I don’t like having Wawrinka, if Nole is to bomb out early that could be the reason, otherwaise he should be right until SF and then we will see. If Federer fixed his back problem he has a chance to stop Rafa, otherwise Rafa should make a final without sweating and if Nole and Andy play each other the way they usually do, then Nadal is favorite to win Madrid. I am with Sean on this one. But still … Ajdeee Noleee


RZ Says:

Ahsan, no conspiracy, just luck of the draw. Otherwise there’s no way Federer would have had to play Rafa in the quarters at Indian Wells.


RZ Says:

BTW, Rafa must be feeling good. I haven’t heard the usual complaints about Madrid’s altitude this year.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

Nole’s possible, and probable, road to final: Dimitrov, Wawrinka, Tsonga, Murray and Nadal or Federer (less likely) are waiting for him in the final. He has to be on top of his game from the very first match, I do start to believe that draw is not fixed..
I’ll leave to the others to predict Rafa’s road to final, I guess it is tough one, too..
I have done my bracket, I did put Nole in final, wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it, but gave Rafa title.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

What is the link for the bracket challenge?


mat4 Says:

Poor Ferrer. When he was ranked no 5, he had a chance to avoid Rafa in the QF. Since he’s no 4…


Wog boy Says:

I missed this one:

“And really, Federer could lose early even to Stepanek.”

You are not serious Sean, are you?
Even Troicki beat him in Munich this week.
As for Tipsy, I don’t see him making secon round. He is in awful slump.


Wog boy Says:

I think this is the one, have a go and if it is not right one you’ll have to ask Kimberly.

http://challenge.atpworldtour.com/atp/groups.php?X=1367620911


skeezer Says:

“Mainly because it’s Nadal and it’s filled with his compatriots. Cake walk.”

Hey, its Spain. This is what a #5 gets, no?


Kimberly Says:

Hi all. Don’t forget the bracket challenge. I think djokovic wins this one. Nadal usually underperforms in Madrid.


mat4 Says:

@Kimberly:

You can’t be serious. He plays quite well in Madrid usually, but the balls fly too fast for him, because of the altitude..

On a more serious note, I think that Madrid will show where everybody stands with his game: Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy, JW.

Fed will probably be a little rusty, but he will be rested, and it could be crucial for the rest of the season.

Rafa will test this knee, and if he plays Novak, see if he can improve his game under less favourable circumstances.

Novak will try to find the consistency that brought him his victories against Rafa. He has improved his strokes, but he needs to make less UE. He has also to finally make more of his IO FH.

Andy has the power and the shots to beat anybody on a surface like Madrid. But he has to develop a less tactical, and more strategical game.

But I think that Jo will be the surprise here.. Wait! he is in Novak’s quarter. No, sorry, next time..


Kimberly Says:

Mat4, he’s only won it twice, where he’s won Rome 6 montecarlo 8, Barcelona 8 and Roland garros 7 soon to be 8.


Kimberly Says:

Had to put the soon to be. 8 in there !


Sirius Says:

Kimberly,

madrid has been played on red clay 3 times, rafa’s been in the finals of those everytime and won 1. That’s not underperforming, is it?


jamie Says:

Djokovic wins Madrid.


jamie Says:

“I originally had Murray winning”

LOL. Predicting is not your forte and that’s why your Nadal will win Madrid prediction will fail.


courbon Says:

Perfect draw for Novak-I’m of opinion that he plays best when he has the toughest draw.If he can not past Wawrinka, he surely can not beat Murray or Nadal in the final.So bring it on and lets best man win…


courbon Says:

@ Wog Boy: Talking about yesterday post-Germany is very pretty country and I like Bayern as a team-great players and great attitude.As Gary Lineker famously said:Footbal is the game where everybody plays and Germans wins….


Wog boy Says:

courbon,

You are right, Bayern is German institution.
BTW, why don’t you join Kimberly’s bracket challenge? We need some more Nole fans, it is fun. You are pretty placid person so you will fit nicely.


Wilfried Says:

The bleeding Spanish bull will get another lance in his aching body. Just my two cents.


Michael Says:

It is a cake walk draw for Nadal with Novak’s end being the toughest. I do not agree with Sean that it will be easy for Rafa if he meets Novak in the finals and he will get his revenge. I am of the opinion that Madrid Court always give players like Novak an advantage over Rafa since they play faster. Novak is mainly the aggressor when it boils down between the two and his shots will carry more sting from the Court and the higher altitude will make the ball travel much faster. Therefore, I think that if Novak manages to make it to the finals, he is most likely to win. But that is not a given and the second favourite to win this title should be Rafa followed by Roger and then Murray. I do not see any upset on the horizon but it is possible.


queen Says:

Really Jaime is there something wrong with your head? After IW you predicted that the Serb will not win anything until US open and now he is winning Madrid and Rome. Like u predicted nadal winning MC…just keep it to yourself!


Ahsan Najeeb Says:

Easier draw for Nadal as compared with Nole but a potentially tough semi for him against Federer…. I know its a bad match up for Fed but if he would have to face Nadal on red dirt he would prefer it to be on Madrid’s relatively quick surface and he has beaten Rafa on this surface before.. On the other side of the draw, Nole has to face tough competition in earlier rounds but in semis his toughest opponent can only be Murray who is not such a huge threat on clay for Nole.. So all in all, I would say that the road to final for both the fav is equally tough


Daniel Says:

Every since Madrid was played on clay (2009) the winner of Madrid won Wimbledon.
So I will go with the fan in me and the supersticious as well and pick Federer all the way, focus more on Wimbledon. In a good serving day Madrid ballas fly and anything can happen. Even when Fed lost to Nadal was a tough 2 setter

Fed has the best Madrid clay results of all top 4: won 09, finalist 10′, semis 11 and won 12.
Nadal: finalist 09′, won 10′, finalist 11′, fourth round 12′
Djoko: semis 09′ , don’t remember 10, but nothig to expressive maybe semis (sorry, lazy to check), won 11, third round 12′

There is a reason Federer plays well in Madrid and I will go with that. The only different aspect is that this year the tourney is not the last beofre RG, which was the case all those years. Actually this can change everything, even the Wimbledon champion:)


Giles Says:

http://alturl.com/brpmc
Soooooo popular! #VamosKing


harry Says:

@Daniel:

“The only different aspect is that this year the tourney is not the last beofre RG, which was the case all those years.”

I am assuming you are talking about 2009 to 2012: in that case it is not true. At least the last two years I remember Rome has been after Madrid.


roy Says:

@ben pronin

‘ Nadal’s quarter is a joke. ‘

except it has ferrer, arguably the best clay courter other than nadal, djoker and federer. and it has almagro, who’s won more clay matches than anybody this year outside of nadal.

so nadal may have to play four of the top five 5 claycourters this year to win.

there is nothing cakewalky about nadal’s draw. it’s harder than any other top five player.


harry Says:

@mat4/WB:

Did you read anything about the clay at Madrid this year? I know they changed it back to red… I mean any murmurs about how slippery it is etc…


nadalista Says:

Totally agree @Ben Pronin, Rafa’s draw should be:

Berdych;
Delpo (yes, they should force him to play specially);
Murray;
Fed;
Djokovic.

Sigh……….


Wog boy Says:

harry,

No, I didn’t read or found any information about Madrid clay. My understanding is that last year clay wasn’t slippery because of the blue colour but because of the way it was layed down. If that is correct, it means that they can make it slippery again regardless of being blue or red, if they want.


Giles Says:

Why a clay tourney would deliberately want to make the clay slippery is beyond me unless they want all the players to suffer injuries! #Idiotic


Giles Says:

http://alturl.com/pe28n
Rafa will not get higher seeding at RG!
Vamos Rafa!!


mat4 Says:

Harry:

On tennis dot com you can find Sharapova’s imrpessions about the speed of the clay in Madrid. It seems that it is a little bit slower.


Wog boy Says:

^^ explain your idiotic post at 6:21am!


nadalista Says:

@Giles, you may be interested in Rafa’s take on Madrid court conditions:

Rafa about the court in Madrid: ‘Very good, the court is in perfect conditions. It’s the best claycourt we had here.’

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=588758194481521&set=a.278980528792624.75686.278612362162774&type=1&theater

Weather in Madrid is forecast to be sunny and dry for the week.

Glad RG will not fiddle with the seedings, rock on!

Vamos Rafa!


Wog boy Says:

mat4, my post wasn’t for you.


Giles Says:

nadalista. That’s great news. Court, weather and a happy Rafa. #NotSlipperyThisYear


mat4 Says:

@WB:

I know. When I write idiotic posts, everybody knows I can’t explain them.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,
:)

Haas is on fire, another final tomorrow. Just so him beating Dodig and he is playing great. The only thing is that he will be tired in Madrid.


Wog boy Says:

“saw” and not “so”


courbon Says:

@Wog Boy: I’m too stupid to do bracket.Went to your link, got confused and gave up…


Wog boy Says:

courbon,

I didn’t know how to do it myself but the other posters helped me with instructions, they were very kind to me and explained to me step by step. If I have to do it again I would have to ask them again for help, so it is not only you. Maybe some of them is reading this and might be able to guide you through or give you better link.


nadalista Says:

Courtney Nguyen does not agree with Sean, she predicts a Novak win over Rafa.

http://tennis.si.com/2013/05/03/madrid-preview-rafael-nadal-maria-sharapova/

Tignor does not agree with Sean, he predicts a Novak win over Rafa.

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/05/red-redux/47320/#.UYUenMpRCDc

I am sure Novak’s team agrees with both Courtney and Tignor and already have a car parked somewhere in the vicinity, to hump, as is their tradition after wins over Rafa at Madrid. Hope Rafa does not disappoint and reaches the final at least:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g43cWPNBMU0


skeezer Says:

“Rafa about the court in Madrid: ‘Very good, the court is in perfect conditions. It’s the best claycourt we had here.’”

a great quote to keep in mind if the excuses start flying from the Bull, win or lose.


Kimberly Says:

If Nadal likes the court it must be playing slow as molasses


skeezer Says:

@nadalista

Wow your post sounds like your the Anti Nole. I would never post something like that about Rafa ;)

Hajde!

———

Kimberly,

Why do I have a feeling that the Warriors are the Guppy in a fishbowl with other Guppies, and the Heat are the Shark in tank waiting to get fed? ;)


Kimberly Says:

Skeezer—lol I can’t see how Rafa can lose but you never know!


Kimberly Says:

Not Rafa I meant the Heat! I just had Rafa on the brain! Freudian


nadalista Says:

@skeezer, stirring the pot as usual. Pray tell, which part of my post is Anti-Nole? In my last post, I:

A. posted a link to Courtney Nguyen’s article, predicting a win for Nole.
b. posted a link to Tiggy’s article, predicting a win for Nole.
c. posted a link to Novak’s team’s 2011 Madrid victory celebration.


nadalista Says:

Of course I know you would never disrespect Rafa, @skeezer, you are a Rafan!

I did not make up the video, it’s on u-tube and it’s fact, so what’s wrong with referring to it. I was not aware it is a touchy subject………


nadalista Says:

Venus agrees with Rafa’s assessment of court conditions:

Williams has already tried out the courts and like the other players, she believes that “these are the best courts this tournament has ever had. They’re playing really well with really nice bounces. They’re great courts.”

http://www.madrid-open.com/en/noticias-tenis-femenino/venus-williams-son-las-mejores-pistas-que-ha-tenido-madrid/


skeezer Says:

@nadalista

my opinion, but you took a little liberty with “c” in the description. but who am I to judge U ;)….wait….ok…maybe they did “hump” the car…..lol.


skeezer Says:

Madrid is my very favorite Clay tennis title to watch. The BallWomen are amazing……wait….errrr….I mean the tennis is awesome.


harry Says:

@WB/mat4:
thanks!

@courbon: the link that WB posted is fine. You just have to go tp the top of the page and click on “Register”. In the resulting page you will have to enter “email”, “username” and “password”; click play now. After that click on groups and search for “tennisxfans”. Click on it; it is a public group and you can add yourself to it. Come back to your “home” page again, and hover your mouse on “My Draw”; select Madrid from the list that drops down…


courbon Says:

@Harry:Thank you Harry!I’ll get on now


harry Says:

@courbon: no problem!


Giles Says:

The geezer clown is trying to speak Serbian now. Lol


Ben Pronin Says:

Nadalista and Roy, are you guys serious? You wanna say Nadal has a tough draw here? Why are you listing Ferrer or Almagro’s credentials as something Nadal needs to worry about when Federer’s credentials thump them both 20 times over. And yet no worry about Fed, yet Ferrer and Almagro pose a threat? I said considering it’s Nadal, his draw is not tough. Not against his compatriots, and generally not on clay. Put one of the other Big 4 there, especially Murray, and it’s a tough draw for them. Please, be more offended and defensive about Nadal being so good that it’s nearly impossible to create a tough draw for him, especially on clay.


Ahsan Najeeb Says:

I don’t see Nadal’s draw as easy at all.. It is made to look easy because ( as Ben pointed out ) Nadal is soooo good on clay that we don’t see any lesser player causing him trouble at all… He has to beat Ferrer in QF , Federer in SF and Novak in F to win the title… I don’t think there is any combination tougher than that given the players participating in the tournament.. Maybe Murray in QF could have been tougher but that is also arguable since Murray never poses serious threat to big three on clay… So those who are saying Rafa’s draw is a cakewalk, its not… Its the toughest three opponents you can get in a clay tourney


Giles Says:

^^ Totally agree!


Ben Pronin Says:

We’re not looking at total draw we’re looking at quarters. Nadal’s quarter is cake walk. Ferrer is not a threat to him nor does he pose a serious challenge. But yeah, his prospective semi and final are very tough.


skeezer Says:

^^Totally agree!

#toomuchrafakoolaid


Ahsan Najeeb Says:

@ Ben

Honestly, it is impossible to design a draw (quarter) that would not look a cake walk on paper against Rafa… He has ridiculously lop sided h2h against anyoneon clay .. While Nico and Ferrer are not different in that regard, I do remember them giving relatively tough time to Rafa in couple of matches… What else do u expect the draw to be like ?? A Barcelona finalist meeting him in third round and probably the fourth best clay courter around to meet him in QF… It is fairly tough in my opinion.

P.S. Don’t mistake me for a Rafa fan. I ama Fed lover.


Giles Says:

^^^ What was the point of your P.S.? #JustAsking


Ahsan Najeeb Says:

@Giles

While I have been following this site for a long time, I am a new poster. I thought whatever I wrote might give an impression that I am a Nadal fan… Not that there is anything wrong with that but just wanted to clarify…I believe I am a fair person and I think calling Nadal’s draw a cake walk is a bit unfair


Ben Pronin Says:

That’s exactly what I said! It’s impossible to create a tough draw for Nadal on clay. Nadal fans seem to be offended by this for some reason. The mind boggles!

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ATP - Apr 14 WTA - Apr 14
1 Rafael Nadal1 Serena Williams
2 Novak Djokovic2 Na Li
3 Stanislas Wawrinka3 Agnieszka Radwanska
4 Roger Federer4 Victoria Azarenka
5 Tomas Berdych5 Simona Halep
6 David Ferrer6 Petra Kvitova
7 Juan Martin Del Potro7 Angelique Kerber
8 Andy Murray8 Jelena Jankovic
9 Richard Gasquet9 Maria Sharapova
10 Milos Raonic10 Dominika Cibulkova
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