The Madrid Masters is underway and is sure to be hotly-contested as it is the last major tournament before the French Open commences on 24th May. All the big guns are present and it would be a major surprise if Rafael Nadal, more dominant on clay than ever, was to be beaten.
Nadal slipped up in the semi finals last year, losing to Gilles Simon, but those who are surprised to learn that the home favourite has won the tournament just once, in 2005, should know that the event has never before been played on clay.
It is for this reason that the Spanish players should come to the fore at the new venue, Park Manzanares. Four Spaniards are seeded in the top 16, although with Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer both in Nadal’s quarter, Spanish hopes of there being more than one home player in the semi finals depend on less-fancied players.
16th seed Tommy Robredo is scheduled to meet reigning champion Andy Murray in the third round, a match which could provide an upset. The new world number three lost to Juan Monaco in the Rome Masters second round and could again be vulnerable, although Robredo has struggled for form this season, having not gone past the fourth round in any significant tournament.
Murray is not the only top four player to have suffered recent disappointing defeats. Novak Djokovic has regained his consistency but lost three straight finals before winning on home soil in Serbia over the weekend, suggesting he should not be backed against his main rivals when the pressure is on in the latter rounds.
The same can perhaps be said of Roger Federer. The world number two cannot seem to find a way of overcoming Nadal and Murray is also making a habit of beating the Swiss legend. However, with regards to tennis betting, he should be backed to reach the final, as I fancy him getting revenge on Murray for his semi final defeat at this event last year.
Philip Oliver is an independent sports writer who specializes in soccer, cricket and tennis. He’ll be providing relevant articles for the Tennis Guru site from time to time.