The Madrid Masters 2014 is a competition that’s undergone some big changes down the years. Spain’s Masters 1000 event will take place at La Caja Magica on red clay, but down the years, this particular event has been played on carpet surfaces, hard courts and even blue clay back in 2012.
Who will win the Madrid Masters 2014?
The ever-changing nature of the tournament means that it’s been difficult for any player to get a stranglehold on the competition and dominate for a few years. In fact, the only player to have successfully defended his title is Boris Becker when he won the tournament in 1990 and 1991.
Rafael Nadal is the holder going into this one, but a couple of defeats on clay courts this calendar year has seen his aura on this particular surface wilt a little.
The Spaniard could lose his No. 1 world ranking in Madrid should he go out before the quarter-final stages and Novak Djokovic goes on to win the competition.
In truth, given the form and fitness woes suffered by many of the top players, an eventual winner is perilously difficult to call. That should make for some enthralling viewing over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Nonetheless, a host of big names will be in attendance in Madrid. Here's your full schedule for the tournament's opening round on Monday:
|Player 1||Player 2|
|Melzer, Jurgen||vs.||Monaco, Juan|
|Nieminen, Jarkko||vs.||Haase, Robin|
|Dimitrov, Grigor||vs.||Carreno Busta, Pablo|
|Copil, Marius||vs.||Granollers, Marcel|
|Anderson, Kevin||vs.||Stepanek, Radek|
|Paire, Benoit||vs.||Simon, Gilles|
|Seppi, Andreas||vs.||Verdasco, Fernando|
|Bautista Agut, Roberto||vs.||Robredo, Tommy|
|Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried||vs.||Roger-Vasselin, Edouard|
|Rosol, Lukas||vs.||Chardy, Jeremy|
|Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo||vs.||Andujar, Pablo|
|Dodig, Ivan||vs.||Nishikori, Kei|
|Delbonis, Federico||vs.||Lopez, Feliciano|
|Ramos, Albert||vs.||Mahut, Nicolas|
|Fognini, Fabio||vs.||Dolgopolov, Alexandr|
|Gulbis, Ernests||vs.||Janowicz, Jerzy|
|Cilic, Marin||vs.||Sousa, Joao|
As we’ve already touched upon, this tournament is an incredibly difficult one to call.
With it being on a clay surface, a natural assumption to make would be that Nadal, the World No. 1 and clay-court master, is the favourite.
The Spaniard won here in 2005 when it was a hard-court tournament and has triumphed here a further two times on clay in 2010 and 2013. So he certainly knows what's required to get the job done on these Madrid courts.
Can he become only the second man to retain this title? You feel as though the Spaniard needs a big win to recapture his spark, and that could easily come in the shape of this competition. He's been practising with world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka in the build-up to this one:
Rafa Nadal practiced with Stan Wawrinka today at Madrid Open. (FB) pic.twitter.com/HPmkFsRMUr— Rafaholics™ (@Rafaholics) May 2, 2014
While the hyperbole that has followed his two defeats in 2014 has been a little over the top, he’s certainly not had the same swagger in his game, and there are players in the tournament who will capitalise.
Looking to take advantage of Nadal’s current deficiencies will be Djokovic. He won this title back in 2011 and will be buoyed by the prospect of regaining his spot atop the world rankings.
But a wrist injury has blighted his preparation for this tournament, and his fitness remains something of an unknown quantity on the cusp of this one.
Rounding off the Big Three, Roger Federer will be looking to win this tournament for the third time after victories in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
He’s been consistent in his preparations for this competition, and with doubts lingering over the fitness of form of the aforementioned duo, he might fancy his chances.
Outside of the three big names, Andy Murray will be looking to make inroads back into the top four of the world rankings after a frustrating campaign.
He has yet to rediscover his rhythm after surgery on his back and could struggle here on the zippy clay courts. Clay is his least preferred of all the surfaces anyway! The Scot will get some valuable court time, but don't expect him to feature in the shake-up, especially with a potential run as tough as this:
One man who almost certainly will, though, is Australian Open champion Wawrinka. He lost out in the final to Nadal in last year’s tournament, but he is a much more rounded, more mature player now than he was a year ago.
The Swiss won his first major back in January and is at a career-high No. 3 in the current world rankings. With doubts lingering over many of the usual contenders, expect Wawrinka to take advantage and come away with the win here.