With the qualifiers already underway, all the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open Masters 1000 was missing was the final draw. The list of players participating in the tournament make up a dream field, so it was to be expected that the competition would throw up some high-calibre clashes even in the first round.
Just ask Rafael Nadal. The world no. 2 will play his first match in the Caja Mágica against the winner of an all-Canadian clash between two young guns; on one side of the net will be world number 20 Denis Shapovalov; while Felix Auger-Aliassime, no. 30, will await on the other. If he makes it through the second round (the Manacor native has a bye for the first), he could meet Nikoloz Basilashvili (no. 17) in the third. And later, he has a plethora of dangerous potential opponents to look forward to: Kei Nishikori (No. 7) in the quarter-finals, defending champion Alexander Zverev (No. 3) in the semis and the world number 1, Novak Djokovic, in the final.
The Serbian could meet Grigor Dimitrov in his opener, a very perilous opponent. His side of the draw, which he shares with Roger Federer, is even more formidable than that of Nadal: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Diego Schwartzman or Marco Cecchinato in the third round, Juan Martín del Potro in the quarters (Nick Kyrgios or Marin Cilic could also face the Serb there), Dominic Thiem or Roger Federer in the semi-finals and Rafa in the final. For his part, Federer, No. 4, will make his return to Madrid, potentially against Richard Gasquet. His other potential adversaries include Gael Monfils or David Goffin in the third round, Thiem or Fabio Fognini in the quarters, Djokovic or Del Potro in the semi-finals and Nadal or Zverev in the final.
The latter will play his opener against David Ferrer or Roberto Bautista. Then come Borna Coric, Lucas Pouille or Álex de Miñaur in the third round, Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters, Nadal in the semi-finals and Djokovic or Federer in the final. The route for Thiem, the runner-up here in the previous two seasons, will start with Pablo Carreño or a player from qualifying, and may continue with Fognini in the third round, Federer in the quarters, Djokovic in the semi-finals and Nadal or Zverev in the final.
Other early matches of interest thrown up by the draw, between foreign players, are: Schwartzman-Cecchinato, Dusan Lajovic-Laslo Djere and Fognini-Kyle Edmund in Djokovic and Federer’s side of the draw; and Borna Coric-Lucas Pouille, Guido Pella-Daniil Medvedev and the aforementioned clash between the two Canadians on Nadal’s.
As for the remaining Spaniards, the standout tie is that of David Ferrer, who will be hanging up his racquet in Madrid, and Roberto Bautista, his friend and doubles partner. Fernando Verdasco will open against the Moldovan Radu Albot (No. 45) and Pablo Carreño will play his debut against a player from qualifying. In addition Jaume Munar faces a difficult clash against Karen Khachanov (No. 13) and Alejandro Davidovich could take on Federer in the second round if he manages to get past Richard Gasquet.
Some of the most attractive ties at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open could be found in the quarter-finals. The four potentially most exciting matches in this round would be Nadal-Nishikori, Djokovic-Del Potro, Federer-Thiem and Zverev-Tsitsipas. Whatever happens, it is clear that we are in for a treat in the Caja Mágica this coming week.