Novak Djokovic will try to end a 2-match losing streak in his opener at the Madrid Masters against former finalist Kei Nishikori, the draw revealed today.
Djokovic, a 2-time Madrid champion in 2011 and 2016, has won just two of his last five matches including three opening round losses at Indian Wells, Miami and Barcelona. He has beaten Nishikori 9 of 11 times. But the Japanese did withdraw from Barcelona due to his wrist.
Djokovic and Nishikori are in a quarter with familiar rivals Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin. The Djokovic-Nishikori winner will face either Kyle Edmund or Daniil Medvedev before possibly Goffin. Dimitrov could have to deal with Canadian fireballer Milos Raonic in his opener.
Seeking a 6th Madrid title, Rafael Nadal leads the field. The home hero has won his last 19 matches and 46 straight sets on clay. He’ll potentially open against the returning Gael Monfils, with possibly and 2017 title rematch against Dominic Thiem in the quarters. Nadal will have to retain the title to stay No. 1.
After an injury-plagued first quarter, Nadal is in full flight.
“With this iliopsoas injury I couldn’t do anything,” Nadal reflected. “I was at the academy, at a lot of meetings. It was good for me to get up to date on some day-to-day things. I was patient and I had the right attitude to try and reach the clay season as fit as possible. Coming into the clay swing with four matches is not ideal preparation, but honestly I feel like I’m playing well. If my body responds, and I win matches, I think I’m ready.”
The second quarter contains a bevy of big men including 2-time semifinalist Juan Martin del Potro, Kevin Anderson, Karen Khachanov and Tomas Berdych who made the Madrid finals in 2012 on the blue clay. Berdych begins with Richard Gasquet.
The last section is home to German wunderkind Alexander Zverev who makes his Masters debut as a No. 2 seed. The 21-year-old who is in the Munich semifinals to face Hyeon Chung, is joined by his Miami conquerer John Isner, Jack Sock and Fabio Fognini. But Zverev could open against the Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old Tsitsipas has won eight of his last nine matches, and finds himself in the Estoril semifinals.
Since the tournament went to clay in 2009, Madrid has only been won by Big 4 players.
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