The clay court swing is now into it’s climax and we have our third Premier Mandatory tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open, where it’s packed and probably many upsets will take place. Let’s break down the draw by dividing it into eight packed quarters. In case you missed it, my daily predictions and full draw predictions are here.
First quarter: Headlined by (1) Angelique Kerber
Oh Kerber… Once again she has a tough draw to deal with again. Considering that she isn’t on her best surface and she always slumps in the second half of the clay season, it seems uncertain that the top seed would make it far into the draw. She kicks off her Madrid campaign against Timea Babos, who Kerber has a huge 4-0 advantage in the head to head. She could face Katerina Siniakova next, and she also leads the HTH against her. However the difficulty largely increases here, where she could face… Maria Sharapova who got a controversial wildcard into the tournament. Sharapova will have to first navigate against big-hitting Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Alize Cornet and Eugenie Bouchard, who both made criticising comments on Sharapova’s wildcards, will loom in the second round.
Second quarter: Headlined by (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Caroline Garcia, Alison Riske, Viktorija Golubic and Yaroslava Shvedova, the unseeded players in this quarter, are all having mediocre or horrible starts to 2017. It gives way to the seeds, Istanbul winner Elina Svitolina, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, to likely face each other in the third round. They are tied in their head to head with one win apiece, their last meeting happening last year in Moscow where Sveta won.
Third quarter: Headlined by (4) Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova has had a pretty average start to the season, with back-to-back semifinals in St.Petersburg and Doha then back-to-back fourth rounders in Indian Wells and Miami. She’ll look to kick off her clay swing with a bang as she starts with Jelena Jankovic, who is in pretty bad form of late, and will face a qualifier in the second round. However the other seed in the quarter is in-form Kristina Mladenovic, who has a 22-8 win-loss record so far this season. She has a difficult first rounder in the form of Ana Konjuh, who has won their two previous meetings. Next up for the winner of this match would face Lauren Davis or Monica Puig.
Fourth quarter: Headlined by (9) Madison Keys
Because of Agnieszka Radwanska’s withdrawal, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is not playing Sharapova in the first round anymore. 😒 She’ll probably be happy about the switch though, as now she has an easier opponent in the form of Sorana Cirstea, who needed a wildcard to enter the tournament. Madison Keys, now taking over Aga’s position in the draw, is the projected third round opponent for Pavs but she’ll have to get past Misaki Doi, and then probably Yulia Putintseva. If Pavlyuchenkova makes it into the Rabat final (at this point of writing she’s in the semis), I don’t think she’ll have much in the tank and Keys will proceed into the quarters. But if she falls at the stage, I think Pavs stands a chance to make it far into the Madrid draw.
Fifth quarter: Headlined by (6) Johanna Konta
Oops, probably another top seed casualty… Johanna Konta, who’s favourite surface isn’t clay, plays Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund, who’s favourite surface is clay. The winner of that will play another player who doesn’t really admire the red dirt, Coco Vandeweghe, or a qualifier. This is a really open quarter as Caroline Wozniacki, the other seed, first plays Monica Niculescu (who she has a staggering 7-0 HTH advantage against) but could face clay court stalwart and home favourite Carla Suarez Navarro next. However if the seeds do make it past their two matches it’ll be a repeat of the Miami final, Konta-Wozniacki again.
Sixth quarter: Headlined by (3) Simona Halep
Simona Halep, defending champion and Tie Break Tens champion, seems to be in great form on the clay and probably will make her way through the draw though her biggest nemesis in the first few rounds yet on the dirt seems to be Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina, though Halep won their previous encounter last year. The No.16 seed, Samantha Stosur is projected to play Halep in the third round in a repeat of last year’s semifinal, has a horrible 8-10 win-loss record and it doesn’t seem like it’ll improve too much as she’ll likely face Julia Goerges who has a 5-1 advantage in the head to head.
Seventh quarter: Headlined by (5) Garbine Muguruza
This quarter is all about the players who love the clay (Francesca Schiavone, Irina-Camelia Begu, Garbine Muguruza, Timea Bacsinszky, Kiki Bertens) Hometown hero Muguruza will try to make her home crowd proud but she probably has one of the worst draws of the top seed as she will face Bacsinszky in her opener. Garbine has won their four previous encounters but it’ll be a different match with both players struggling for form and injury this year. Upset alert tag certainly up. Then Muguruza could face last year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Bertens. (who yes, is in bad form too) Fellow seed Elena Vesnina is in trouble too as she faces clay-loving Begu in her opener. Seems like a noteworthy upset alert but Begu has lost two puzzling matches in Istanbul and Rabat just these two weeks. Schiavone then looms in the second round.
Eighth quarter: Headlined by (2) Karolina Pliskova
We have three Czech players in this draw, Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Strycova, and Lucie Safarova. (who withdrew in the Prague Open so she could possibly do the same here) Probably this is the most open draw here – none of the top players in here like the clay. We could see even Lara Arruabarrena, or Anastasija Sevastova making it to the quarterfinals! I’ll stay safe and stick with No.2 seed Pliskova for this though.
Semi-Finalists: Sharapova, Mladenovic, Halep, Muguruza
Finalists: Sharapova, Halep
I can’t believe I’m picking Sharapova to make the final of Madrid! The WTA top 20 has been really inconsistent this year and it’s really tough to pick winners for tournaments. Going for Halep for the second straight tournament (I picked her for Stuttgart) and I have quite a lot of confidence she’ll be the winner for the second straight year! Thanks for reading even though it was quite lengthy!