Paths to the ATP Madrid Quarterfinal

Rafael Nadal in action at the ATP Madrid Open.
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The ATP Madrid quarterfinals have been set, with some mouth-watering clashes coming our way. A number of top players have fought their way through tricky encounters to reach the final eight, setting up what promises to be a thrilling end to the tournament. Before the four blockbuster matches get underway, let’s take a look at how the last men standing arrived here.

ATP Madrid Quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic vs Hubert Hurkacz

Quite the treat first up. It’s been a complicated year for Djokovic, but he found some great form in Belgrade and it appears he’s brought that with him. As the top seed, he received a bye in his first round before playing Gael Monfils, who could offer no game plan to offset the world #1. Djokovic cruised through unscathed, and was set to play Andy Murray in the third round, who had found some scintillating form in his wins over Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov.

Unfortunately, the Brit withdrew before the match due to food poisoning – giving Djokovic a walkover. As a result, we’ve not really seen enough to gauge where Novak’s level is at. He looked sharp against Monfils, but still lacks match practice and his fitness was a concern in Monte Carlo in Belgrade. However, he’ll be well rested going into this encounter after a relatively easy week so far.

Hubert Hurkacz often struggles on clay, but he’s looked excellent at times this week. With the altitude and quicker conditions in Madrid, he’s been executing his brand of tennis to an effective degree. He’s not had it easy by an means – coming through a tight first round encounter with Hugo Dellien, which he followed up with an even closer win over the electric Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. This was highly impressive given the Spaniard’s recent form.

This win clearly gave Hurkacz plenty of confidence as he took down a dangerous looking Dusan Lajovic in straight sets. Unfortunately for the Pole, he now faces a monumental challenge in Djokovic. Despite Novak’s tricky year, he’s still the man to beat at any tournament and he’s in with a great shot at this title. Djokovic will go in as the favorite, but it’ll be intriguing to see how this one plays out.

Rafael Nadal vs Carlos Alcaraz

If the first quarterfinal looks exciting, then we’ll need a new word for this one. The two Spaniards will lock horns for a third time, a year on from their first meeting at this very tournament. Nadal had a first round bye, before playing solidly in his first match back since his rib injury against Miormir Kecmanovic, getting the job done in straight sets.

Next up for Rafa was an absolute stunner of a match against David Goffin. He looked primed to win in straight sets, but Goffin had other ideas. The Belgian forced a decider, and soon it was anyone’s game. Nadal had saved four match points, notching up yet another stunning victory and whipping the Madrid crowd into a frenzy. He now gets Alcaraz, who is not the same player he faced a year ago.

The youngster hasn’t been at his best this week, but has shown more than enough brilliance to suggest that he’s got his eyes on a second Masters 1000 title. Alcaraz was given a first round bye due to being a top seed, which is remarkable in itself. In his first match, he came back from a break down multiple times to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets. Following this, he fought out a tough win against the ever-competitive Cameron Norrie in an excellent three set match.

Many are picking Alcaraz to win this one, which isn’t entirely surprising. Nadal is only two matches into his return and he’s not 100%, so this is a great chance for the youngster to get his first win over one of his idols. Alcaraz will have to play well though – Goffin was excellent and still couldn’t find a way to get past Nadal when it mattered. Whatever the result, this promises to be a cracker.

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Andrey Rublev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

It’s not been an easy week for Andrey Rublev, and it’s undoubtedly a difficult time off court right now as well. After a first round bye (as did Tsitsipas),┬áJack Draper was his first match. This proved to be a real struggle, with the young Brit playing some inspired tennis. However, Rublev showed why he’s an elite player and found a way to win, which was highly impressive. He was then tasked with another Brit in Dan Evans, who gave Rublev quite the contest.

Andrey’s win over Evans was a tough grind – he was visibly frustrated throughout the match and could easily have lost both sets that were played, but managed to win them. Clearly a lot is going on below the surface, but he’s finding a way to channel it into playing positive tennis, which he’ll be pleased about. However, he now faces one of the best clay court players in the world right now.

It’s seemingly a common theme this clay court season for Tsitsipas to go under the radar. Everyone is talking about Nadal, Djokovic, Zverev and Alcaraz as title contenders but the Greek is yet to drop a set and looks very strong once again. After dispatching Lucas Pouille, Tsitsipas gave the exact same treatment to Grigor Dimitrov. This is made even more impressive if you caught the utterly superb performance Dimitrov put in to beat Diego Schwartzman.

Tsitsipas should be confident ahead of this. Though the conditions help Rublev give his serve and forehand more pop, there’s just so much more the Greek can do on the surface that his opponent can’t. It’s always a great spectacle when these two play each other, so expect much of the same on this occasion.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Alexander Zverev

The final match of the day. After an incredible start to the year, Auger-Aliassime’s form dropped off a cliff. Now, he’s seemingly found that blistering form once again. Like Zverev, Auger-Aliassime also had a bye in the first round. Both of his matches so far have been absurdly one-sided, starting with an annihilation of Cristian Garin in his first match. His following encounter with Jannik Sinner was shocking to say the least.

Sinner wasn’t at his best, but Auger-Aliassime absolutely took the Italian apart. The conditions are clearly helping the Canadian here as he gets more rewards from his big serve and forehand, but he’s playing very well on top of this. The forehand has been absent recently but it’s clearly finding it’s mark again – and it’s deadly. He should have some confidence heading into this one, given he’s beaten Zverev in two of their last three meetings.

Zverev has had a poor year so far, but he likes the conditions in Madrid, shown by his two titles here. He was close to going out to Marin Cilic in his first match, but managed to scrape over the finishing line. Following this, he was in control against Lorenzo Musetti who pulled out injured at the start of the second set. He’s a player who relies on his serve a great deal, as when it’s not there he often gets found out – so this will need to be working for him here.

This will highly depend on who plays the more aggressive and accurate tennis – Auger-Aliassime clearly has the tools and the game plan to beat the German, but he has to hit his spots otherwise it may be a tricky match for the young Canadian. Definitely an intriguing match-up to close out the day’s play.

Main Photo from Getty.