Madrid is the third Premier Mandatory event of the year and typically, it has some fun matches with most of the world’s top 50 present. I’ve decided to skip the tournament preview and go straight into previewing some of the fascinating round 1 match-ups. Let’s begin!
Madrid Round One
1.  Simona Halep (No.1) vs Ekaterina Makarova (No.32)
Makarova once again has gotten the short end of the stick in draws as in Madrid as she has drawn two-time defending champion and World No.1 Simona Halep in the first round. Makarova is in desperate need of form as she’s on a four-match losing streak; she also hasn’t reached a quarterfinal since Wuhan last year. While Halep is also struggling a little of late, Halep in Madrid should be too much for Makarova to handle. Halep has won their last three completed matches as well.
Final Prediction: Simona Halep d. Ekaterina Makarova in two sets
2. Anett Kontaveit (No.29) vs  Venus Williams (No.8)
I’m really surprised Venus has entered into Madrid – she hasn’t played this tournament since 2015, and has only played Madrid four times in her entire career. While she had some decent results on the dirt in 2017, this has historically not been a good surface for Williams and I suspect she could be a little vulnerable in the early rounds during this clay swing. Kontaveit is a really decent player and I think she’ll pounce in the early stages of the match, but Venus’ experience will come through in the end.
Final Prediction: Venus Williams d. Anett Kontaveit in three sets
3. Kristina Mladenovic (No.22) vs  CoCo Vandeweghe (No.13)
Whether you hate these two or like these two, this sounds like it’s going to be a fun match 😂 Vandeweghe had a stunning week in Stuttgart where she played the best clay court tennis of her entire career to oust Sloane Stephens, Laura Siegemund, Halep and Caroline Garcia before falling to Karolina Pliskova in the final. Meanwhile Mladenovic’s slump continues after a brief St.Petersburg-Fed Cup revival – she has lost her last five out of six matches on the tour. Vandeweghe leads the head to head 4-1, though Mladenovic won their previous match in Wuhan in 2016. Mladenovic is obviously the better player on clay [on her day] but you just have no idea what you’re going to expect from her. She has finalist points to defend from last year though and I’m expecting her to be super motivated coming into this clash.
Final Prediction: Kristina Mladenovic d. CoCo Vandeweghe in three sets
4.  Garbine Muguruza (No.3) vs Peng Shuai (No.37)
I’m laughing at this match-up because both are coming into this match with injuries… Muguruza recently retired down a set to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Stuttgart, while Peng is returning from a knee surgery and was physically struggling in her few matches in the WTA 125K event in Anning. I watched a couple of her matches in Anning though and even with the struggles, her tennis has looked OK so I believe she’ll make this match pretty competitive. Muguruza has a horror record in Madrid (not a single victory against a top 100 player in six visits) and doesn’t seem to be able to get her game going in Madrid. While I do think Peng will make this a tough one for Muguruza, I don’t think she’ll be able to close leads out if she has the chance to do so, with her confidence pretty low at the moment.
Final Prediction: Garbine Muguruza d. Peng Shuai in three sets
5.  Caroline Garcia (No.7) vs Dominika Cibulkova (No.33)
Both players has had disappointing years so far so this will be interesting. Garcia has showed signs of some form though, in Stuttgart where she reached the semifinals (d. Svitolina) but fell in a flat performance to Vandeweghe. Cibulkova has lost her last three matches on the tour though this can be attributed to a virus caught in Indian Wells. Garcia leads the head to head 2-1 and has won their last two meetings on the tour. I’m slightly more inclined to go for Garcia, perhaps in a tight two setter.
Final Prediction: Caroline Garcia d. Dominika Cibulkova in two sets
6. [WC] Marta Kostyuk (No.133) vs [WC] Lara Arruabarrena (No.80)
When you’re watching Marta Kostyuk, you just can’t help but be impressed with her game – if you still don’t know who she is, you need to get to know her now! Starting the year ranked No.523, she has climbed more than 400 spots and is now in the world’s top 150… Her notable results this year has been a third round appearance in the Australian Open, an ITF 60K title in Burnie, and two top 35 wins against Daria Gavrilova in Fed Cup and Alize Cornet in Stuttgart qualifying. Madrid though will be Kostyuk’s first tournament on the outdoor clay this year and against a competent clay courter like Arruabarrena, I’m interested to see if she can stay mentally strong throughout the whole match. I’m going for Arruabarrena as she has produced some good results on the dirt this year.
Final Prediction: Lara Arruabarrena d. Marta Kostyuk in three sets
Madrid predictions can be found here or at the top of the page!