ATP Madrid Open Day 1 Predictions Including Dusan Lajovic vs Denis Shapovalov

Jaume Munar in action ahead of the ATP Madrid Open.

With the European clay-court season now well underway, the ATP Madrid Open begins with four intriguing first-round matches. As always, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the slate. But who will book their place in the second round in the Spanish capital?

ATP Madrid Open Day 1 Predictions

Dusan Lajovic vs Denis Shapovalov

Head-to-head: first meeting

Denis Shapovalov has enjoyed some good results on the clay so far in his career, not least his run to the semifinals at this event in 2018. But the terre battue is not the Canadian’s favourite surface, with his first-strike brand of tennis all too often blunted by the more skilled defenders on the clay. That is what happened to the young gun in Estoril, where he lost in three sets to the Frenchman Corentin Moutet in the second round.

Fortunately for Shapovalov, although Dusan Lajovic has a very fine clay-court record, he is not the sort of grinding defender that has caused the Canadian such problems in the past. Instead, much like Shapovalov, Lajovic is at his best playing on the front foot. However, although he has the better clay-court pedigree, it is hard to see him outhitting Shapovalov. Lajovic does have the superior backhand, but Shapovalov should still have enough to get past the Serbian.

Prediction: Shapovalov in 3
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Pedro Martinez vs Tommy Paul

Head-to-head: Martinez 1-1 Paul

This match may not grab that many headlines, particularly because so many of the WTA’s big names are in action, but it does have the makings of an interesting match. Tommy Paul is unquestionably the more talented of the two, which is reflected in the 42 places between the pair in the ATP rankings. However, Pedro Martinez has considerably more experience of clay-court tennis than the American and he will also have the backing of the crowd on home turf.

This will be their third meeting, with Martinez having won their first match, which was contested in the US Open qualifying in 2019, at a canter. Paul avenged that defeat when Martinez was forced to retire after five games at the ATP Monte Carlo Masters earlier this season. Although it would surely be a mistake to place too much emphasis on that win for Paul, the American does look to be in good position to win this match. The conditions in Madrid generally favour the player willing to deliver the first strike and that should be Paul the majority of the time.

Prediction: Paul in 3
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Marton Fucsovics vs Alexander Bublik

Head-to-head: Bublik 2-1 Fucsovics

With the conditions in Madrid favouring first-strike tennis, this match should feature plenty of winners. Marton Fucsovics has played some fine tennis so far this season, most notably in reaching the final at the ATP Rotterdam Open, and the Hungarian has a solid record on the clay. Alexander Bublik, in contrast, has struggled for the most part on the red dirt. So far, 2021 has followed the pattern of his career with the Kazakh having recorded just one win in four matches on the clay so far this season.

That said, he did beat Fucsovics in their only previous clay-court meeting which came in 2017 at a Challenger in Rome. Bublik should also enjoy the conditions at the ATP Madrid Open. The high altitude makes the serve an unusually important weapon and his willingness to come forward to finish points at the net may well prevent Fucsovics from settling into a rhythm from the baseline. Expect a close contest, but for the Kazakh to prove just about too strong for Fucsovics.

Prediction: Bublik in 3
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Alex de Minaur vs Jaume Munar

Head-to-head: Munar 2-1 de Minaur

2021 has been a broadly disappointing season so far for Alex de Minaur. There is no doubting the Australian’s commitment, but he has not yet managed to translate effort into results. Indeed, it will surely be a concern that his best showing so far this season was reaching the third round at the Australian Open, where he lost in straight-sets to Fabio Fognini. Jaume Munar, in contrast, has been in superb form so far this season, albeit playing mostly at Challenger-level.

Indeed, the Spaniard will surely be disappointed that he has, for the most part, struggled to replicate his success at Challenger-level on the main tour. However, he did reach the final at the ATP Andalucía Open and there can be no doubt about his ability on a clay court. Long rallies look likely to be the order of the day here, but Munar should be the player more confident in stepping in and dictating. That may well prove to be the difference here.

Prediction: Munar in 3

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