Rafael Nadal Looks to Stay Unbeaten On Clay At ATP Madrid 2018
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Madrid Masters 1000 is the second of three ATP Masters on clay, and another chance for Spaniard Rafael Nadal to show off his legendary talents on clay, and for now, extend his unbeaten streak on the surface. Here is your full preview with predictions.
Nadal hasn’t lost on clay this year and will open against Gael Monfils or a qualifier, I have him facing countryman Pablo Andujar in round 3. Andujar opens with fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, presuming he wins that it will be a struggling Diego Schwartzman or Adrian Mannarino in round 2. Nadal over Andujar is the pick for round 3.
Dominic Thiem will begin against a qualifier or Mischa Zverev, I’ll back Thiem to win that and defeat Pablo Carreno Busta or Borna Coric in round 3 to reach the quarters. The winner of PCB/Coric takes on J.L. Struff or a qualifier in round 2.
Del Potro’s Quarter
Juan Martin Del Potro should open his clay court season with a win over Damir Dzumhur or Julien Benneteau, I’ll back Richard Gasquet to edge Tomas Berdych and Karen Khachanov/qualifier before falling to Del Potro in the third round.
Kevin Anderson faces Roberto Carballes Baena or a qualifier, while Roberto Bautista Agut drew Jared Donaldson followed by Yuichi Sugita or Philipp Kohlschreiber. Kohli, a current finalist in Munich, is likely going to face fatigue, and I’ll back Bautista Agut over Anderson in round 3.
Grigor Dimitrov will get a big matchup with Milos Raonic or a qualifier, his third round tilt should be a bit easier with Benoit Paire/Lucas Pouiille or Denis Shapovalov/Tennys Sandgren featuring. No one in this section is in great form besides Dimitrov, I have Paire winning a pair of matches before falling to the Bulgarian.
Kei Nishikori vs. Novak Djokovic is the match of the first round, both players are formerly elite and hoping to return to form with Madrid presenting a great opportunity. I’m more confident in Nishikori right now, and I have him beating Djokovic and Kyle Edmund/Daniil Medvedev to reach round 3. David Goffin has a great shot at making a run if he can get past Hyeon Chung (or Robin Haase) in round 2. I’ll go with Nishikori over Goffin in a challenging section of the draw.
Both Alexander Zverev and his potential 2nd round opponent Stefanos Tsitipas are currently in ATP finals (Munich and Estoril). I’ll go with Zverev to defeat Tsitipas/qualifier and Fabio Fognini to reach the quarters. Fognini opens with Leonardo Mayer, Paolo Lorenzi or Fernando Verdasco will follow.
America’s #1 and #2 John Isner and Jack Sock are in the same section. I have Sock being upset by Pablo Cuevas, with Cuevas going on to defeat Albert Ramos/Peter Gojowczyk in round 2. Isner should defeat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Ryan Harrison to reach the third round, and I’ll go with Isner over Cuevas at that stage.
Nadal d. Thiem
Del Potro d. Bautista Agut
Nishikori d. Dimitrov
Isner d. Zverev
Nadal is the heavy favorite against Thiem, but did lose to him on clay last year. Del Potro and Nishikori should have good weeks, while Isner benefits from his draw.
Nadal d. Del Potro
Nishikori d. Isner
Look for Nishikori to have a solid week, and Nadal to stay unbeaten on clay, taking home another title.
Nadal d. Nishikori