The ATP Madrid Masters is rapidly approaching its decisive phase. The Spanish tournament is now bereft of local hopes, as Paula Badosa and Rafael Nadal crashed out on Thursday and Friday respectively. On the men’s side, the upper semifinal features a heavyweight clash between Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, while Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini will seek their maiden final at this level.
ATP Madrid Semifinal Predictions
Casper Ruud vs Matteo Berrettini
Head to head: Ruud 2-1 Berrettini
Ruud is sneakily becoming a big tournament specialist on clay. The Norwegian has played four events on the surface this season, a pair of Masters and a couple ATP 250s. At the lesser events, he got dismantled by rising prospect Carlos Alcaraz and gunslinger Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarters. However, he advanced to the Monte Carlo semifinals and will at least match that result in Madrid. His run in Spain has been perhaps a bit more impressive, as he’s yet to drop serve in four matches this week. Only World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas has pushed him to a tiebreak.
On the other side of the net awaits the ever-powerful Berrettini. The Italian has won seven matches on the bounce between Belgrade and Madrid, so he’s no fluke. Ruud has prevailed in their two previous encounters on clay, but Madrid’s altitude definitely helps Berrettini. The Italian can serve bombs and hide his backhand from avid retrievers who may exploit that weaker wing at sea level. It should be a close affair, but I have Berrettini advancing.
Prediction: Berrettini in 3
Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem
Head to head: Thiem 8-2 Zverev
Tennis is unpredictable. Zverev, who hardly ever losses on German soil, arrived in Madrid fresh off a defeat at the hands of No. 111 Ilya Ivashka in Munich. Fast forward a few days and the 24-year-old joined an elite group of players who managed to beat Nadal three straight times. Meanwhile, Thiem’s form was an enigma entering the event after nearly two months away from the tour. Nevertheless, he took advantage of a mild first couple of rounds and endured a serving onslaught by John Isner to make the semis.
These two know each other quite well, having already met ten times, including the infamous 2020 US Open final, which the Austrian won in dramatic fashion. Even though Thiem is technically the superior clay-courter, he has yet to win a big title on dirt. On the other hand, Zverev has lifted trophies in Rome and Madrid, the latter coming against Thiem in the final. Zverev looked scarily good back in 2018, surrendering zero break points en route to the title. This time around, he’s been quite impressive as well, dismissing Kei Nishikori, Dan Evans and the aforementioned Nadal in straights. I don’t think Thiem will be capable of stopping the Hamburg native either.
Prediction: Zverev in 2
Main Photo from Getty.