Six of the best players in the world were present at the ATP Media day to speak to the media before the Mutua Madrid Open gets underway. David Goffin, Grigor Dimitrov, John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Dominc Thiem and Juan Martín Del Potro answered questions from the press, and all were in agreement that Rafa Nadal is the favourite for the crown, however the conditions and altitude in Madrid might just give them the chance to see off the defending champion.
David Goffin: The Belgian knows what it is to face Rafa Nadal in this tournament. Last year the Spaniard beat him in the quarters: “You know what you’re getting with Nadal, but he just keeps on winning and winning.” However, the world number seven is convinced he will be able to have a good tournament: “I’m 100 per-cent fit, I feel good physically and I’m happy to be here.”
Grigor Dimitrov: The Bulgarian is up for the challenge in the Spanish capital and is ready to beat his career-best quarter-final performance achieved in 2015. “This year I’ve come a bit earlier to Madrid, I’ve got good memories of the tournament and I feel good.” The world number four explained that he is focused on showing his best level: “The most important thing you can do is try your best, and the best thing about tennis is that you’ve always got another shot at doing so the week after.”
John Isner: Champion in Miami, Isner is looking to build of his good form at the Mutua Madrid Open: “I haven’t been here for two years, but I really like Madrid, it’s a unique tournament and the players love coming to play here.” When quizzed on Nadal, the American only had glowing praise: “He’s the most dangerous player there is on clay. We’ll see something close to that again; his numbers are incredible.”
Kevin Anderson: The South African has yet to shine in Madrid, but is hoping to do so this year. “Clay’s not my favoured surface but the altitude here in Madrid is good for me and helps my game. The ball flies quicker and it’s better for players with a big serve.”
Dominic Thiem: Last year’s finalist wants to try and do the same again this year: “I want to do well because the conditions are almost perfect for my style of play.” Last year Nadal denied him the title, and this year they would meet in the quarters, should they both get there, and the Austrian is confident should that happen. “You’ve always got a better chance of beating him here because the ball moves quicker. It’s very difficult but you’ve got a chance if you play your best throughout the match.”
Juan Martín Del Potro: The Argentine is back in Madrid for the first time in two years and he comes here after a strong start to the season: “It’s been a while since I didn’t come to Madrid and I really wanted to come back. I’ve always had a great time.” Like the rest of the players, the winner of Indian Wells thinks the man to beat is Rafa Nadal. “He’s the kind of clay, he’s the favourite for the tournament but we’re here to try and beat him.”