With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal out of the 2023 Mutua Madrid Open draw, firebrand Carlos Alcaraz looks to build on his victory in Barcelona, as the clay season grind continues. The Spanish teenager reigns as the top seed in the tournament, with Daniil Medvedev lurking atop the other half of the draw.
Alcaraz cannot overtake Djokovic for #1 in the world even if he defends his Madrid title, but he can make it close. More important than rankings at this stage, however, is the pivotal preparation for Paris. GOAT injuries represent a major opportunity not only for Alcaraz but for some other clay court provocateur.
How Madrid fits into the warm-up for Roland Garros has always been unclear. At a higher altitude than Paris, the ball cuts through the air quickly. Topspin is weaponized. Dominant servers are rewarded. With that in mind, here is a 2023 Mutua Madrid Open Draw Preview and Analysis.
The Alcaraz Quarter
Fortunately for the Spaniard, a long run in Barcelona earns him a break. The Madrid Open rewards all 32 seeds with byes this year. The way Alcaraz is playing at the moment– fast, loose and powerful– he should not be bothered in his quarter. Other seeds around him include Grigor Dimitrov and Sebastian Korda, who has been away from tennis for months. Alexander Zverev has been playing better again, but still hasn’t attained the form he had before last year’s severe ankle injury against Nadal.
Only 2023 Monte Carlo champion Andrey Rublev, who Alcaraz would meet in the quarterfinals, could mildly disturb this run by Charlie. Amazingly the two have yet to play. A Carlos Alcaraz – Andrey Rublev h2h: That needs to happen!
The Open Quarter
The second part of this half of the Mutua Madrid Open Draw is filled with opportunities for somebody. Casper Ruud and Holger Rune bookend it, but banged-up Rune just won Munich. He’s tired. Ruud, who did win the title in Estoril earlier this month, has exited in his second match a full six times this year. Very unlike him. He’s got to hit his stride on his favorite surface again at some point. As a strong server, perhaps this is the week for Ruud.
Another contender I like in this quarter is Hubert Hurkacz, who made it to the quarterfinals of Madrid last year before losing to Djokovic. No shame in that. I’m not as high on Lorenzo Musetti, who’s been playing well. Madrid can be a nightmare for one-handed backhands.
The Americans Quarter
American Ben Shelton slides into Madrid as a seeded player at 32. His ascent has been rapid. He is joined in this section of the Mutua Madrid Draw by fellow Americans Francis Tiafoe and Tommy Paul. Of these three, I like Foe to emerge with the best tournament, though I’m excited to see what a power player like Shelton can do here.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top seed in this section. Stef has over-achieved and played well in Madrid, thanks largely to his serve and forehand. However, he went deep in Barcelona last week, losing to Alcaraz in the final. He’s battled some shoulder problems in 2023. That’s no fun on a high-bouncing surface. It’s hard to pick against Tsitsipas on clay. The other big seed in this quarter is Felix Auger Aliassime, who Stef has a 5-3 record against. I sense Stef is tired right now, but FAA is only now entering clay after a knee injury.
Circle FAA vs. Shelton as a fun potential Round of 32 match.
The Dos Equis Quarter
It’s The Most Interesting Quarter In The World. The overall 2 seed, Medvedev, could have to play two-time champion Andy Murray in his opening match. That’s interesting. You wouldn’t think Murray’s game would be suited to this surface, but depending on how he uses his drop shots, he could bother Meddy. For his part, the Russian has said in the past, he doesn’t like to play here. He really needs to give it a fair shake.
I think the young Czech Jiri Lehecka is the real deal, and I’m curious what he does in Madrid. And of course, Taylor Fritz could legitimately make some noise here with his serve. He pulled out of Madrid last year and exited in the round of 64 in 2021. But Fritz has been enjoying this clay season, having fun reminding everyone that we should downplay expectations for Americans on the red dirt. Serve ’em up, Taylor.
My players to watch:
QF: Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Fritz
SF: Alcaraz, Tsitsipas
2023 Mutua Madrid Open Women’s Draw
Congratulations, Iga Swiatek– you just won Stuttgart– now you get Elena Rybakina and Jessica Pegula in your half of the draw. Also Barbara Krejikova, who has won a doubles championship in Madrid. In her quarter, Swiatek gets the hard-serving Rybakina, whose 7 seed has not caught up to how she’s been playing. Elena made it to the Round of 16 last year, and I expect her to do even better this year. A Swiatek vs. Rybakina quarterfinal could be a rare 3-set contest for Iga. Clay is Iga’s surface. Her returning skills are supreme, even in a tricky altitude. Could be a fascinating match, with a chance for Iga to even their head-to-head at 2 apiece.
Jessica Pegula has developed into a legitimate WTA star. She lost the final here in Madrid last year to Ons Jabeur, who isn’t a real threat this year due to injury. I like JPEG’s patient, consistent game very much on just about any surface. She’ll have to get through potential matches with Victoria Azarenka, Jill Teichmann and possibly Daria Kasakina. Since Pegula handled Teichmann in straights here last year, I’m not too concerned. This could be a good run for Jess until she hits Swiatek. There, if Pegula is lucky, Rybakina will have taken a toll on Iga, which might tilt the advantage to Jess.
American Coco Gauff should play well in Madrid with her excellent movement and big serve, but she bowed out in the round of 64 in 2021 and the round of 16 in 2022. Is it time for a quarterfinal? It’s just no fun having hometown girl Paul Badosa in your area of the draw. Then you have the potential of Donna Vekic, Maria Sakkari, Jelena Ostapenko and Jabeur all in your way. It’s a tough draw for Gauff, but she’s still great on clay.
Aryna Sabalenka anchors the bottom of this massive draw, and the Belarussian won Madrid in 2021. Her big serve likes the Caja Magica. Fellow ace Carolina Garcia could give her trouble, but those two would not meet until the quarterfinals. Garcia has the edge in their head-to-head 3-2, but all of their previous meetings have been on hard court. So this would be a fascinating matchup of aggression. Sabalenka went down early in Madrid last year in 3 sets to Amanda Anisimova, but in the end, Aryna tends to excel where she’s comfortable. She likes this place.
My players to watch:
QF: Swiatek, Pegula, Gauff, Sabalenka
SF: Pegula, Sabalenka