Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal remain alive in the Madrid Masters draw. That’s really good news for fans of the World No. 1 given how the Monte-Carl Masters went earlier this spring. In that event, Djokovic lost to Jiri Vesely in the second round. But in Madrid, Nadal and Djokovic are on course to meet in the final. Between the two, it’s the Serb that has the far more difficult draw.
Next up for Djokovic is a match against Canadian Milos Raonic. Raonic enters his upcoming match against Djokovic on pretty firm short-term form as he is 6-1 in sets played so far in Madrid. In the round of 16, the Canadian defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, a solid win as Raonic prepares for the French Open. However, on head-to-heads Raonic has never claimed a victory over Djokovic and they now have six meetings in their history.
Also alive on Djokovic’s half of the draw are both Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios, who scored a bit of a surprise win over Pablo Cuevas in the third round, remains the least-proven clay courter left in the Madrid draw. Accordingly, one has to think that it will be Nishikori going through to the semifinals. From Djokovic’s point of view, a draw through Raonic and then probably Nishikori certainly will serve as a solid test ahead of the final.
Nadal, who has yet to drop a set in Madrid, will face Joao Sousa in the quarterfinals. Portugal’s best player, Sousa has made the final of three clay-court events in the past, and he has some modest skills on the surface. However, Nadal should have little trouble with him as that section of the draw was purged of some major talent when Roger Federer withdrew from the event with a back injury. A much more challenging semifinal match against either Tomas Berdych or Andy Murray looms for Nadal should he defeat Sousa as expected. While Murray might be the expected semifinalist, Berdych does have 6 wins over the Scot in 13 matches, suggesting that the semifinal spot is up for grabs.,
With a Nadal/Djokovic final very much a possibility for Sunday there’s definitely a marquee match-up in the making in Madrid, a tournament that is a men’s and women’s combined event. On the women’s side, the draw isn’t so loaded with stars. WTA Madrid has seen nearly all of the big names on tour falter due to match losses or injuries. What’s left is a semifinal round featuring Dominika Cibulkova vs. Louisa Chirico and Simona Halep vs. Sam Stosur. That implies a Cibulkova/Halep final with the bigger names back in action in Rome.
Both Rome and Madrid are a part of the lead-up to the 2016 French Open. In that event, Djokovic will be looking to complete his career Grand Slam while Nadal will be looking to prove that he is still a contender for majors at this point in his career. A Nadal/Djokovic final would certainly help shed some light on who should be considered the proper favorite in Roland Garros.