2012 ATP Madrid Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Mutua Madrid Open
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
May 6-May 13, 2012
Prize Money: € 3,090,150
The second clay court Masters tournament of the year, featuring Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and just about every other top player (except for Andy Murray who withdrew due to injury), kicks off Sunday on the attention- grabbing blue clay.
While the blue “Smurf” clay has been under intense focus from players and fans alike, time will tell if it plays the same as the normal red stuff, which is supposedly the same in consistency. This is the first ATP event ever played on blue clay to my knowledge and was put in place by the charismatic Ion Tiriac to supposedly allow fans to see the ball better. If you are a strict tennis traditionalist, you might just have to skip this one, but otherwise, buckle up and enjoy the show.
Top 8 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Roger Federer
4: Jo Wilfried Tsonga
5: David Ferrer
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Janko Tipsarevic
8: John Isner
1st round matchups to watch:
Jurgen Melzer vs. (13) Feliciano Lopez
The ATP Memphis champion and former top 10 player Melzer will take on 13 seed Lopez, who is still vying for the title in Munich, in a battle of veteran lefties that should be fun to watch. The Spaniard Lopez should have the home crowd behind him.
(9) Gilles Simon vs. Fabio Fognini
Simon, the 9 seed, and Fognini will play a rematch of the ATP Bucharest final a couple of weeks ago. Simon triumphed in straight sets to take the Bucharest title in that match.
Milos Raonic vs. David Nalbandian
Surprise Barcelona semi-finalist Raonic will take on veteran Argentine Nalbandian who is still in the running for the title in Belgrade this week.
Philip Kohlschreiber vs. (12) Gael Monfils
Kohlschreiber, who is still vying for the title in Munich will take on 12 seed Monfils. Gael has had some recent struggles. Should be interesting to see if Peppo can pull off the upset.
(16) Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Pablo Andujar
Dolgopolov, who gave Djokovic a run for his money in Monte Carlo and has righted the ship a bit, will take on Andujar, who is still gunning for the title in Belgrade.
Top seed Novak Djokovic will open up with a qualifier before a possible match-up with Stanislas Wawrinka, Lopez or Melzer in the 3rd round. Lopez and Wawrinka are both still competing for titles this week (in Munich and Estoril respectively) and will be tough but winnable match-ups for Djoker.
7 seed Janko Tipsarevic will start off with either Albert Ramos or a qualifier before moving on to face Bucharest champ, Simon, Marcos Baghdatis, Fognini or Garcia-Lopez. None of these match-ups appear to be easy.
3 seed Roger Federer will play his first tournament on clay this year (and his first since a loss in Miami to Andy Roddick) starting off with either Raonic or Nalbandian. Neither are easy match-ups. If he can get through that 14 seed Richard Gasquet, still playing for a title in Estoril this week, a possible 3rd round match-up Thomaz Belluci, Viktor Troicki or Donald Young are also possibilities.
David Ferrer, the 5 seed and Barcelona finalist, will open up with either Bernard Tomic or Radek Stepanek before a likely 3rd round match-up with Nicolas Almagro or Carlos Berlocq. Matches are winnable but not guaranteed for the Spaniard.
2 seed Rafael Nadal will seek to extend his winning streak by starting off with either the tricky Ivo Karlovic or the veteran Nikolay Daveydenko. He faces a likely match-up with countryman Fernando Verdasco in the 3rd round, who he put a beating on in Barcelona.
6 seed Tomas Berdych enters the week somewhat under the radar. He starts off against either fellow big man Kevin Anderson or Alex Bogomolov. Monfils, Kohlschreiber, or veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero are possible 3rd round match-ups.
4 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, still smarting from his 2nd round upset loss to Tommy Haas (who is still vying for the Munich title even though he is not in the field in Madrid), starts off with either Ryan Harrison or a qualifier before things will get considerably tougher against either Dolgopolov, Andujar, Andreas Seppi or Michael Llodra. Andujar and Seppi are still gunning for the title in Belgrade.
8 seed John Isner, who we haven’t seen in a while, faces a dangerous match-up against either Marin Cilic or Albert Montanes. 10 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, still trying to repeat in Estoril, is his probable 3rd round match-up.
Dark Horse: Alexandr Dolgopolov
Dolgopolov played quite well in Monte Carlo, redeeming himself from recent struggles (at least partially) and is in the weakest quarter of the draw with 3 big men being his main rivals (Isner/Cilic and Del Potro). He enters Madrid well rested, unlike Cilic and Del Po (and his 1st round match-up Pablo Andujar), and his flat slap chop game is well suited for high altitude Madrid.
Djokovic d. Ferrer
Nadal d. Dolgopolov
Djokovic d. Nadal
While Nadal has shown he is still the king of clay in recent weeks, he has never fully embraced Madrid (dislikes the altitude among other things) and Djokovic is looking to redeem himself from a sloppy finals performance against Rafa in Monte Carlo. A lot of that can be attributed to his emotional state after the loss of his grandfather earlier in the week.