And on the fourth day, the Top 5 players in the world led by Rafael Nadal will finally make their appearance in Madrid. Nadal is joined by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling on the last day of second round play.
Nadal faces former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis. Even on clay, I think the Cypriot can push Nadal put not enough to keep from a 35th straight win on the dirt.
Djokovic has his own streak to protect. The Serb has won 29 straight matches, 27 this season, as he takes tangles with big-serving Kevin Anderson. The South African upset Djokovic in Miami a few years back but I don’t think we’ll see a repeat on Wednesday.
“A lot depends on me but also on his serve as well,” Djokovic said of Anderson. “If he serves very well and if he has a lot of efficiency on that serve, he can be very dangerous, so I expect a tough match.”
And after his Belgrade win, Djokovic sounds like he’s still got the right mindset.
“I took some time off after Miami and I didn’t play in Monte Carlo so that gave me a couple of weeks to recover and really get ready for clay courts which actually require quite some time to get ready for,” said Djokovic. “Then I went to my hometown, to my country, and played a couple of matches there. So far I’m feeling good and very motivated to keep on winning.”
Federer, who hasn’t won a title since the opening week in Doha, draws the hot-handed Feliciano Lopez. The lefty just reached the Belgrade final – pushing Novak to a breaker – and today put forth a good win over Milos Raonic. The altitude should help Lopez with his serve so if any of the top players figure to get upset Wednesday it’s the Swiss.
“I play tennis and train everyday to play matches like the one tomorrow and against the players like the ones here, the best player in history, it’s really a pleasure,” said Lopez of playing the Fed. “I’m in a very good moment and I’ve had a very good season on clay and what matters most is the moment because there are incredible moments in everyone’s career and you’ve got to play against Federer and try to face him. I’ll try to play as well as I did today and if I do I will have many opportunities.”
With things packed on Stadium court, Murray and Soderling have been relegated to the outer courts. Murray, who says he’s healed up from the bad elbow, faces a very stern test in Gilles Simon. Soderling is on Court 4 against Santiago Giraldo.
After a good three-set win today over Mikhail Youhzny, Juan Martin Del Potro returns to take on Marin Cilic in what maybe the best match of the day. Though I wonder with a possible Nadal clash on Thursday, how much energy the Argentine has left in the reserves.
Other results on Tuesday include good wins by JW Tsonga, Florian Mayer and Sergei Stakhovsky who eliminated the last remaining American, John Isner.
Spaniards David Ferrer struggled but survived in three sets over Andrian Mannarino while his countryman and hometown boy Fernando Verdasco wasn’t as fortunate. “Hot Sauce” is definitely no longer hot as evidence by a loss today to Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6, 7-5. This the same Lu who couldn’t even qualify in Belgrade last week.
After a strong showing in Estoril this was not a good follow-up for Verdasco who has really been struggling this season.
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, 4 MAY, 2011
MANOLO SANTANA start 11:00 am
 P Kvitova (CZE) vs  V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
K Anderson (RSA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs M Baghdatis (CYP) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
 M Sharapova (RUS) vs D Cibulkova (SVK) – WTA
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 2:00 pm
 T Berdych (CZE) vs [WC] M Granollers (ESP) – ATP
M Cilic (CRO) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
G Simon (FRA) vs  A Murray (GBR) – ATP
[Q] D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs  J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
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