The Madrid Mutua Open is ready with a tough draw including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Whether the clay is red or blue, it promises to be an important preview heading to Rome and the French Open.
Each of the top 10 players has his own rhythmic style. Some dance with elegance and others crush bold shots.
When they are on their game, fans will witness melodies of breathtaking skills. There will be memorable compositions and disappointing flops, but it will also be fierce and dramatic.
Presented for each of the top 10 seeds is one key for his success in Madrid, and one classic rock song that will parallel and inspire his success. (There will be no blues rock songs out of respect for the traditional red clay.)
Key: Juan Martín del Potro has overpowering groundstrokes and better footwork on clay than potential obstacles John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
What he needs most is consistency and a dash of variety. Can he be patient enough to work points when needed, looking for the right opportunity to unleash winners?
"Evenflow" by Pearl Jam: Del Potro seems like the type to play to a grunge hit. May he not get rattled on a replay call. If his mind and game are in lock, he could flow right into the semifinals for a potential battle with Rafael Nadal.
Key: Simon is a fluid clay-court player who has the agility and all-around strokes to beat the top guns if they have an off-day.
He must not be too complacent to stay back and trade strokes, but will need to take some bold risks, hit harder at times and look to control his share of the rallies.
"On the Run" by Pink Floyd: Simon can scramble behind the baseline, but can he force his opponents to be on the run more often than he does?
Key: Isner has had two giant wins in 2012 by defeating Federer and Djokovic. He will need to continue his fearless play with his usual big serving and forehand, but will also have to come in to the net whenever the percentages favor it.
He may have improved his groundstrokes, but cannot count on winning the tournament against better baseliners. He must finish off forehands and easier points, even on clay.
"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses: Can Isner keep moving into the big time of tournaments? Often a player will take a step back in his development, but if Isner survives the jungle of clay he will be primed as a serious contender on the paradise of grass.
Key: Though Tipsarevic is quick and athletic, he seems to prefer hard courts. He is good at taking the ball early, but could benefit with more slice on the blue clay. Above all, he must not get in a funk with too many unforced errors.
"Baba O'Riley" by The Who: A blend of simple folk style and crashing rock, Janko should follow its lead: play loose, have fun and stay upbeat, at least before the third-round encounter with Djokovic.
Key: Berdych can beat anyone on a given day. He possesses powerful, efficient strokes on any surface and good footwork.
If he is to win Madrid, he must play bigger in third sets and big matches. He went away so quietly against Djokovic at Monte Carlo after going up a set.
A potential quarterfinal match against Nadal seems to be a sharp contrast when it comes to fighting for a win.
"Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones: Berdych can take a cue from this music by charging hard and finishing the job. The song never fades out and projects a confident beat.
Key: Almost the opposite of Berdych with great fighting, but less pace and talent with his groundstrokes. He does keep the ball deep and is great on clay, but coughed up some big points against Nadal in the Barcelona final.
He needs to come up big against Federer in quarterfinals with precision play.
"You Really Got Me" by Van Halen: The song carries energy and fight with power chords that need to be the theme for Ferrer's groudstrokes.
Key: Needs to turn feet of clay into feats of clay. Moves well to his forehand, but will need to hit his backhand better. When he slices it he can get to the net, but seems conflicted at times.
Could be hard-pressed to get by Del Potro in the quarterfinals but has the talent to win it all.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana: Load up on your backhand...How long...How long...How long...Can Tsonga break through and win a couple Grand Slams? Will take a Nirvana-like breakthrough.
Key: The blue clay may play to his advantage. Reportedly, the ball will stay low on slice shots, and this is something Federer can exploit. He must use his variety.
Federer will also need fresh legs by the quarterfinals with potential matches against Ferrer, Djokovic and Nadal. It will take great energy. No questions about talent.
"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin: One of the most beautiful medleys of rock music that can play with enchanting touch but also hardcore tempos and intensity. No other tennis player has such a range of brilliance.
Key: Though Nadal seems to have regained his mojo, the blue clay may prove to be a mental and physical thorn. He has been unhappy about it without hitting a single game stroke.
He must forget about the blue clay and build on his recent success.
"Back in Black" by AC/DC: Let loose from the noose. Play with your usual fire and confidence back in the black of 2010. It's a song of confidence with its incessant, repetitive refrains and intensity.
Key: Time to get on another streak by overwhelming his opponents. Tough to do, but also expected from the No. 1 player who wants to be a future legend.
He needs his pace and rhythm to take over. He can rely on his extraordinary retrieving ability, but may find some problems with Federer's slice in the semis.
If Nadal's game loses bite on blue clay, Djokovic will be the heavy favorite.
"Enter Sandman" by Metallica: Time to put the field to sleep. It's a statement tune that does not hide its intentions to dominate with two kinds of guitars. It could be a nightmare for his opponents.