The route has been mapped and excitement is guaranteed. On Saturday the draw for the men’s tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open was held at the SetBall.radio stand and the path to glory next Sunday was laid out for the players. Tournament director Manolo Santana hosted the draw, accompanied by Secretary of State for Sport and chairman of the CSD Higher Sports Council, Miguel Cardenal.
The top eight seeds receive a bye in the first round but several face tricky matches in the second. World number one Novak Djokovic will face either Spanish clay-court specialist Nicolás Almagro or Croatian 19-year-old Borna Coric, the youngest player in the top 40 and dubbed “mini-Djokovic” due to the similarity in their playing styles.
Second seed Andy Murray will open his title defence against either a qualifier or Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
In the top half of the draw, Djokovic is projected to meet world number seven Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, with the winner going on to a hypothetical semi-final against French Open champion Stan Wawrinka or Kei Nishikori.
If the bottom half of the draw goes as seeded, the quarter-finals will pit Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer and Murray against Tomas Berdych.
However, the road is long and there will be surprises along the way. Among the most mouth-watering first round ties are all-Spanish clashes, trips down memory lane and any number of unknown quantities.
The “Armada” face tough tests in first round
With the exception of Nadal, the rest of the Spanish representatives at the Caja Mágica have demanding debuts.
Nicolás Almagro vs. Borna Coric
Leonardo Mayer vs. Feliciano López
Qualifier vs.  Roberto Bautista Agut
Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs. Jeremy Chardy
Juan Mónaco vs. Fernando Verdasco
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs.  David Ferrer
Pablo Carreño Busta vs. Grigor Dimitrov