Day 3 at the ATP Madrid Open will continue to open its turnstiles for a limited number of fans. There will be plenty of excellent matches to look forward to, including the presence of the ATP tour’s match win leader of 2021 Andrey Rublev.
Who will advance?
We also predict the rest of the day’s matches, in three other articles. On features Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Casper Ruud, the second highlights Alexander Bublik vs Denis Shapovalov, and the third features Karen Khachanov vs Kei Nishikori.
ATP Madrid Open Day 3 Predictions
Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Head-to-head: first meeting
Pierre-Hugues Herbert is toiling perilously close on the exit gates of the Top 100. Herbert could leave the centurion club for the first time since 2017 if he fails to address his recent slide. The Frenchman suffered a shocking defeat to Bernard Tomic in the first round of qualifying in Monte Carlo to begin his claycourt adventure. He picked up a pair of wins in Barcelona and Estoril but folds easily when facing higher-ranked opponents.
In contrast, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina continues to excel on tennis’ most demanding surface. He reached the quarterfinal of a Masters 1000 event for the first time at the Principality, before he was stopped by eventual champion Albert Ramos Vinolas in the last four in Estoril.
Davidovich Fokina is the better mover and can hit with decent length on clay. Herbert’s record in Madrid leaves too much to be desired, with a solitary main draw win in four previous visits.
Prediction: Davidovich Fokina in 2
Cameron Norrie vs Filip Krajinovic
Head-to-head: first meeting
Cameron Norrie fell at the last hurdle in his bid to win a maiden ATP title in Estoril last weekend. It was a grueling battle against Ramos Vinolas, with the British No. 2 needing to take painkillers for a left foot issue as the final approached its third hour. Despite the heartbreak in losing in a final set tiebreak, Norrie added another chapter to his excellent 2021 success story during his week-long stay in Portugal. He has the third-most tour-level victories this year with 18.
The unheralded left-hander is in a race against time to recharge his batteries and improve his own conditioning before facing Filip Krajinovic. The Serbian World No. 36 should be the fresher of the two and should take advantage of a heavy-legged Norrie.
Prediction: Krajinovic in 2
Editor’s note: After this article was published, Norrie withdrew from the tournament and was replaced by Lucky Loser Yoshihito Nishioka.
Andrey Rublev vs Tommy Paul
Head-to-head: Rublev 2-0 Paul
Andrey Rublev has been shifting through the gears on clay, but we are yet to see him go into overdrive. The chase for a first Masters 1000 title will continue in Madrid where he is set to make his tournament debut. Rublev will not need any further reminders of the test that awaits him in the second round.
Tommy Paul has never been a player to shy away from a challenge. But the Russian should look to fortify his status as the tour leader in terms of match wins in 2021.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Alex De Minaur vs Lloyd Harris
Head-to-head: De Minaur 0-1 Harris
Alex De Minaur’s comeback win in the first round was a rare bit of sunlight, given his dip in form since the Australian Open. De Minaur had won two of his last seven matches and appeared on the brink of another defeat to Jaume Munar in Madrid. But the Aussie, known for his extraordinary agility and court-coverage, defended superbly and used his flat groundstrokes intelligently to punish his Spanish opponent. He recovered from a set and a break down to win in three.
Next up will be Lloyd Harris. The South African upset Grigor Dimitrov in three sets, but there is a big question mark on the nature of his back injury. Harris was forced to take a medical timeout at the end of the second set, and there is a possibility this issue could recur in his next match. That will most likely hamper his movement and general body coordination, thereby affecting his ability to pick his spots from his serve and forehand. Regardless, De Minaur should be able to squeeze his way into the third round.
Prediction: De Minaur in 3
Main Photo from Getty.