MUTUA MADRID OPEN
Madrid, Spain; surface: clay
Seeds: Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Dominika Cibulkova, Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Madison Keys, Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Elena Vesnina, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kristina Mladenovic, Barbora Strycova, Samantha Stosur, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Floaters: (WC) Maria Sharapova
Breakdown: All eyes are on Maria as she starts against the No. 17 seed Lucic-Baroni; Sharapova won their only career meeting easily at the 2011 French Open…Kerber and Kuznetsova are the top seeds in the quarter, joined by lower seeds Lucic-Baroni and Svitolina…(1) Kerber starts against Timea Babos, and (8) Kuznetsova against Yaroslava Shvedova…The Sharapova-LB winner will meet the winner of the struggling Genie Bouchard and Alize Cornet…Also in the mix are Caroline Garcia and Alison Riske.
“I lost the last few years in the first round so to be honest, I’m not expecting too much,” the top-seeded Kerber said, setting the bar low. “But to be honest, I think maybe that’s the way to play here, to look forward to my first round and play day by day and trying to play good tennis here.”
Floaters: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Kohjuh
Breakdown: Not a whole lot of resistance for the seeds in the second quarter, but (4) Cibulkova will start against Jankovic in a battle of struggling players, and (14) Mladenovic will start against the riser Konjuh (who has won both their career meetings)…Cibulkova and Keys headline the quarter, joined by fellow seeds Mladenovic and Pavlyuchenkova…A very favorable draw for Keys, and not so much for Cibulkova as the two players return from injury…Also in the mix are Monica Puig and Daria Gavrilova.
Floaters: Laura Siegemund, CoCo Vandeweghe, Carla Suarez Navarro, Roberta Vinci, Daria Kasatkina
Breakdown: Halep and Konta headline the quarter, joined by lower seeds Wozniacki and Stosur…Besides Maria’s opener, the match of the first round could be (6) Konta vs. the Stuttgart champion Siegemund (winner to face Vandeweghe or a qualifier)…Halep starts against Kristyna Pliskova, then meets the Vinci-Kasatkina winner.
“It’s a very difficult [opening] match,” Konta said of Siegemund. “I’m playing someone, Laura, who’s coming off a great result in Stuttgart. She beat a lot of great players so I know she’s playing well on this surface. I’m looking forward to the challenge, to play someone who’s playing well on this surface and improve my game as well.”
Floaters: Timea Bacsinszky, (WC) Francesca Schiavone, Irina-Camelia Begu, Lucie Safarova
Breakdown: Pliskova and Muguruza head the quarter that has a lot of potential potholes for the seeds…Openers of interest include (5) Muguruza vs. Bacsinszky, (12) Vesnina vs. Begu (who leads their career head-to-head; winner to meet the former French Open champ Schiavone), and (15) Strycova vs. Safarova, who won their lone career meeting on clay…Pretty easy road for Pliskova, not so much for the struggling Muguruza.
Wildcards were awarded to Sharapova, Schiavone, Romanian Sorana Cirstea, and Spaniards Lara Arruabarrena and Sara Sorribes Tormo…Withdrawing from the event were Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Serena and Venus Williams…Halep beat Cibulkova in last year’s final.
“I’m looking forward to start the tournament,” said Halep, who in her last outing lost in the Stuttgart semifinals to the eventual champion Siegemund. “It’s a little bit of pressure of course, but it’s a nice pressure.”
Former champs in the field are Halep (2016) and Sharapova (2014).
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