The hot favourites to the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open title now know their route to the final. The draw was made today for the men’s main competition and it has thrown up some enticing clashes in the early rounds. The ceremony was attended by tournament director Feliciano López, ATP Tour Supervisor ATP Gerry Armstrong and Carlos Alcaraz, the rising star of Spanish tennis, whose eyes lit up when he saw what the draw had in store for him, with a possibility of meeting Rafael Nadal in the second round.
Nadal, the top seed in Madrid and five-time #MMOPEN champion, will start his campaign against the winner of the clash between Alcaraz -who is close to his 18th birthday- and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The Mallorcan could also meet Alexander Zverev, the 2018 champion in the quarters. The German’s opener will be no walkover as he faces the winner of the clash between two ex-Top 10 players in Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori.
Alcaraz, who reaches adulthood on 5 May, could receive an unbeatable birthday present if he gets past Mannarino. It will be a clash of the present and future of Spanish tennis on the best possible stage: the Caja Mágica. The Murcia native is already familiar with the courts in the capital of tennis, as in 2015, having just turned 12, he won the Under-12 trophy.
“I understand what it could mean playing against Nadal here in Madrid. Hopefully he can have the experience that I had and play against a legend of tennis and possibly the best player in history. Let’s hope. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The best thing to do is to think about his match against Mannarino and hopefully it goes well for him”, said Feliciano López.
The Toledo native looked back at his own debut in the Spanish capital: “I debuted here in Madrid as a wildcard like him and I played in the third round against Andre Agassi. It was the match that made me realise a lot of things and it was a turning point in my career. One of the matches I learned the most from”.
Two-time finalist (2017, 2018) and third seed Dominic Thiem still does not know the identity of his first opponent, as he will come from a clash between two qualifiers, but he does know that he could meet Andrey Rublev in the quarters.
For his part, second seed Daniil Medvedev will be bidding for his first victory in the Caja Mágica in his third appearance. After bowing out in the first round in 2018 and 2019, the Russian will be hoping to open his victory account in Madrid against the winner of the encounter between Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich and a qualifier. In the quarters he could meet clay specialist Matteo Berrettini, who took the title in Belgrade a few days ago.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, champion of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 and finalist in Barcelona this year, will be hoping to continue his impressive run. The Greek, who played the title match in the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open (lost to Djokovic), could meet Diego Schwartzman, who would meet him in the last eight.
As for the rest of the Spaniards, Jaume Munar will open against Australian Alex de Miñaur and Roberto Bautista will do the same against a player from the qualifiers, as will Pablo Carreño. Albert Ramos will start against Taylor Fritz, while Fernando Verdasco, who will be participating in Madrid for the eighteenth time, will make his bow against Chilean player Cristian Garín. The final #MMOPEN wildcard, Pedro Martínez, meets Tommy Paul in his first tie.
ATP Main Draw
 R. Nadal (ESP) – Bye
A. Mannarino (FRA) vs. [WC] C. Alcaraz (ESP)
Qualifier vs. J. Struff (GER)
G. Pella (ARG) vs.  J. Sinner (ITA)
 H. Hurkacz (POL) vs. J. Millman (AUS)
J. Chardy (FRA) vs. D. Evans (GBR)
K. Khachanov (RUS) vs. K. Nishikori (JPN)
 A. Zverev (GER) – Bye
 D. Thiem (AUT) – Bye
Qualifier vs. Qualifier
A. de Minaur (AUS) vs. [WC] J. Munar (ESP)
L. Harris (RSA) vs.  G. Dimitrov (BUL)
 R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Qualifier
J. Isner (USA) vs. M. Kecmanovic (SRB)
[WC] P. Martinez (ESP) vs. T. Paul (USA)
 A. Rublev (RUS) – Bye
 D. Schwartzman (ARG) – Bye
U. Humbert (FRA) vs. A. Karatsev (RUS)
M. Fucsovics (HUN) vs. A. Bublik (KAZ)
D. Lajovic (SRB) vs.  D. Shapovalov (CAN)
 F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. C. Ruud (NOR)
C. Norrie (GBR) vs. F. Krajinovic (SRB)
N. Basilashvili (GEO) vs. B. Paire (FRA)
 S. Tsitsipas (GRE) – Bye
 M. Berrettini (ITA) – Bye
Qualifier vs. F. Fognini (ITA)
T. Fritz (USA) vs. A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
Qualifier vs.  P. Carreno Busta (ESP)
 C. Garin (CHI) vs. [WC] F. Verdasco (ESP)
D. Koepfer (GER) vs. R. Opelka (USA)
Qualifier vs. A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
 D. Medvedev (RUS) – Bye