The Madrid Draw is out and surprise surprise Federer and Nadal ended up in the same half as pretty much the whole world expected. Fortunately they're not in the same Quarter like we saw in Indian Wells this time their seeded to meet each other in the Semi Finals which I think makes it more interesting.
Obviously it seems that the powers that be wanted another Djokovic / Nadal final though so no real surprises that they're kept apart. The only other big news is that Juan Martin Del Potro has withdrawn with a viral infection. Is this guy ever healthy?
Let's take a look at the draw and if you want to see a full copy of it you can view the .pdf here.
First Quarter – Djokovic doesn't have it easy
After schooling Nadal in Monte Carlo I make Djokovic the favourite for winning in Madrid but looking at the draw he won't have it easy.
First up he'll likely have to get past Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian has impressed me of late against and it looks like he's getting close to pulling off a big big victory. He's also come out to the press this week and said he wants the Federer comparison to go, that is a smart move from him as it shows he wants his own on court identity and not to be a cheap imitation. I'm starting to expect some big things from him but whether it will be in Madrid I'm not sure.
The next match doesn't get easier for Djokovic either as he will probably meet Stanislas Wawrinka; Wawrinka took him to the wire at the Australian Open and has been in good form of late crushing Murray in Monte Carlo. I doubt Wawrinka has the mindset to beat Djokovic though so whilst it might be a tough 3 setter I think Novak will come through.
After that it will probably a Tsonga Quarter Final followed by a Murray semi final. I think Djokovic can win those ones comfortably, perhaps even more so than his first rounds. Tsonga might be a threat if the balls are flying but he's far too inconsistent. Murray is an unknown quantity on this surface.
Second Quarter – Can Murray deliver?
I'd say Murray has it slightly easier than Djokovic but I don't think you can count out Bellucci from causing an upset, he's a dangerous lefty and loves the clay courts. I think Madrid will also favour his game as he does hit big shots, if the ball is flying at altitude then Murray will need to play well and defend well to come through.
I think if Murray gets past Bellucci then he will make the Quarters quite easily where he is seeded to play Berdych. Berdych is very unpredictable lately and seems to be choking matches even more than usual. He nearly lost to Davydenko in Barcelona before coming unstuck against clay court verteran Tommy Robredo.
If those two meet in the quarters I'll pick Murray. I thought he might have a good performance on clay at some point during the season, maybe Madrid is the place.
Third Quarter – Nadal's French Open quest begins
After losing Monte Carlo Nadal bounced back with a win in Barcelona, albeit against relatively weak opposition so I think Madrid is where his real quest for the French begins.
He has a relatively easy draw with a match against Benoit Paire in the first round. Paire gave him trouble in Barcelona for a set but faded, I don't think he will be able to cause Nadal any problems here though. After that he gets to face his slave Almagro who has zero chance of causing an upset.
The quarter final is seeded to be against Ferrer, this could be interesting but Ferrer has struggled since losing to Murray in Miami, that match it out of him big time in fact he kind of broke him a little mentally. He is in the semi final at the Portugal Open and could go onto win it so will get some confidence from that. However he usually bends over for Nadal just like Almagro in important matches anyway so I can't see it being any different here.
Another cake walk semi for Nadal.
Fourth Quarter – Return of the GOAT
Finally, the quarter you have all being waiting for! This is very hard to predict mainly because Federer hasn't played in like 8 weeks or something crazy. First up for him is either Stepanek or Tomic. I think he will play Stepanek actually as the Madrid courts can reward an aggressive player like him.
That will be a nice test actually as Stepanek always comes to play and you have to be alert from the get go otherwise he can catch you off guard. He is also an all court player so Roger will be able to test out a variety of different shots and get some feel into his game.
I saw some fans worried about Tomic but I don't have any concerns with him really, he only plays well in Australia and isn't great on clay so even Rusterer should beat him comfortably. In fact if Roger loses to Tomic, I will stick my neck out and say he won't win another match on clay this season.
After that a match with Nishikori looks to be on the cards, Kei is a very talented player but I don't think he's the type of guy that can cause Roger too many problems. Historically players who give Roger trouble are either insane grinders / consistent or they have a big big weapon that when it catches fire can cause him difficulty. Nishikori is neither of those so again it should be a test, but a good one with plenty of good rallies.
Should he make the Quarter Finals it's seeded to be Gasquet but Cilic or Isner could also figure. I think it's most likely to be Gasquet on current form, he's beaten Federer on clay before but again he has no out and out weapons other than a great backhand. After a long break Gasquet is just the kind of opponent you want as he will test you but isn't a mentally tough player.
From there it's either Ferrer / Nadal in the semi finals and of course then either Djoker or Murray in the final.
What to Expect From Federer?
I think this tournament is impossible to predict, Fed has been out of action for what feels like forever so only he has an idea of his form and how well he's playing. Indian Wells ended badly so that's the only real indicator we have but it was almost 2 months ago now.
I personally think he will make the semi finals but that's nothing more than guesswork as he could easily lose in the second round. We'll have more idea one he's played a couple of matches.
I think it's important he gets back to winning ways after a few tough losses post Australian Open as you feel he almost needs to kickstart his season again. But regardless it will be just good to see him play.
I'm glad that Federer and Nadal aren't seeded to meet in the Quarters again though. I actually like Roger's chances more if they meet in the semi final, it means one more match to tune up his game and increase the confidence levels should they meet. He's beaten Nadal in Madrid before so that definitely counts for something.
- Granollers who might actually play Federer
What are your predictions? Do you have a lot of expectation or just looking forward to seeing the GOAT back in action?