Day 4 Preview: Nadal, Zverev, Tsitsipas In Madrid Openers

  • Posted: May 03, 2022

Day 4 Preview: Nadal, Zverev, Tsitsipas In Madrid Openers

Nadal making first appearance since the Indian Wells final

The Mutua Madrid Open second round will conclude on Wednesday, with Rafael Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas all set to open their campaigns on Manolo Santana Stadium. Three men’s singles matches also feature on Court Arantxa Sanchez, with seeded players Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Roberto Bautista Agut in action.

Four doubles quarter-final places will also be booked on Tuesday at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw | View Schedule

[3] Rafael Nadal [ESP] vs. Miomir Kecmanovic (SER)

While Nadal recovered from a rib injury he sustained in Indian Wells, the consistent Kecmanovic carried on with his stellar season. The Serbian entered Madrid on the heels of six straight ATP Tour quarter-final runs, and went one step further last week to reach the Munich semi-finals. He booked his second ATP Head2Head meeting against Nadal with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Alexander Bublik.

Nadal, a five-time champion in Madrid, is seeking a record-tying 37th ATP Masters 1000 title. But after a six-week layoff, he is keeping his expectations in check.

“I have improved compared to when I arrived here [in Madrid], but I still have ups and downs, because it’s been a long time. It’s going to be a difficult week,” Nadal said ahead of the tournament. “That’s the reality. We have to be calm, we have to accept that things are going to be far away from perfection, but then onwards we just have to fight. I’m recovered. I feel good.”

Nadal will put his 20-1 season record on the line against Kecmanovic, who is a very strong 22-9 on the year himself. Nadal won the pair’s only previous meeting in Acapulco in 2020.

The Spaniard is currently in his 867th consecutive week inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, spending more than half of that time at No. 1 (209 weeks) or No. 2 (370 weeks).

Most Consecutive Weeks In Top 10

Player  Weeks Years
 Rafael Nadal 867*  2005-present
 Jimmy Connors  789  1973-88
 Roger Federer  734  2002-16
 Ivan Lendl  619 1980-92
 Pete Sampras  565  1990-2001

*Does not include 22 weeks during 2020 when ATP Rankings were frozen due to the pandemic.

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)

Two-time Madrid champion Zverev holds a 7-1 ATP Head2Head edge over Cilic and will look to extend a seven-match win streak after dropping their first meeting in 2015. Each of their past five matches have come at either an ATP Masters 1000 event or at the Nitto ATP Finals, with their most recent meeting coming at the 2018 year-end event.

A recent semi-finalist on the clay in Monte Carlo, Zverev is seeking a bounce-back performance after an early defeat to Holger Rune as the top seed last week in Munich. Cilic is also playing his third clay-court event of the season, and enters the second round behind a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Prior to this year’s event, 2017 and 2021 Madrid champ Zverev reflected on his title run one year ago: “It was an incredible tournament,” he said. “For me, I enjoyed it so much because I had so many great matches in general.

“Obviously the final, lifting the trophy is the ultimate satisfaction. But the matches I had with Rafa, with Dominic, with Nishikori, with Berrettini in the final, those are just such enjoyable moments. I think the matches themselves were so much fun to play in.”

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA)

Tsitsipas followed his second straight Monte Carlo title with a run to the Barcelona quarter-finals, where he fell in three sets to Carlos Alcaraz. The Greek can complete a three-surface trifecta of wins against France’s Lucas Pouille on Tuesday. The pair have previously met on grass and hard courts, with Tsitsipas a straight-sets winner in Halle (2018) and Marseille (2021).

The 28-year-old Pouille, a former World No. 10, is competing in his fourth tour-level event of the year. After playing in the Australian Open, he made two home-nation appearances in Montpellier and Marseille, reaching the quarter-finals in the latter before bowing out to eventual champion Andrey Rublev in three sets. The wild card World No. 174 contested two ATP Challenger Tour events in April, reaching the quarter-finals at the Open Comunidad de Madrid.

Tsitsipas was a 2019 finalist in Madrid ATP Masters 1000, beating Nadal in the semis but losing to Novak Djokovic in the final. If recent form holds, he’ll have a good chance of repeating or bettering that result this week. 

“I’ve had some good results on clay. I want to keep rolling the way I’ve been rolling the last couple of weeks,” he said. “My ambitions are very high and I want to give it another go this week.”

With fond memories of the Madrid tournament and the city itself, the Greek said winning the title in the Spanish capital is high on his list of career goals.

“Generally I think the city of Madrid has something very special about it,” he added. “Every time I come to Spain I really like the ambiance and the way people think and behave.”

Best Of The Rest

A busy day in Madrid will see seeded players competing throughout the grounds. Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut will open play on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium against Daniel Evans, with 13th seed Diego Schwartzman taking on Grigor Dimitrov later in the day. Jannik Sinner, the Italian 10th seed, will close play on the Madrid second stadium against Alex de Minaur.

On Stadium 3, fifth seed Casper Ruud starts the day against qualifier Dusan Lajovic before 12th seed Hubert Hurkacz meets Monte Carlo finalist and home favourite Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

In doubles action, fourth-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut will battle Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic for a quarter-final spot, while Miami champions Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner take on Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.

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