Rafael Nadal fist pump

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, celebrates winning a game against Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, during their men’s singles semifinals match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Rafael Nadal returns to the court after missing nearly six weeks due to a stress fracture in his rib.
  • It’s the first time he and No. 1 Novak Djokovic have both played the same tournament in 2022
  • Djokovic, Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are all in the same half. Read on as we break down the draw

Only one of the top three favorites at this year’s Madrid Open can win the tournament.

ATP Madrid Open Men’s Singles Odds

Seed Player Odds
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) +210
[7] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) +400
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) +500
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) +600
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) +1200
[5] Casper Ruud (NOR) +1600
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) +2800
[10] Jannik Sinner (ITA) +3300
[13] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) +4000
Sebastian Korda (USA) +5000
Gaël Monfils (FRA) +6600
[PR] Dominic Thiem (AUS) +6600
14 Denis Shapovalov (CAN) +6600
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) +6600
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) +6600
[16] Pablo Carreño Busta (ESP) +6600
[WC] Andy Murray (GBR) +10000

Odds as of April 30 at BetMGM.

Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are all in the same half of the draw. So only one can make the final.

The first two could meet in the quarterfinals; the winner could meet the No. 1 seed in the semis.

Defending Champion Zverev Struggling

Alexander Zverev is the defending champion, and has won Madrid twice. But he’s really going through a rough patch.

His desultory loss in his opener at his home-country tournament in Munich this week, to young wild card Holger Rune, might well have been rock bottom.

In truth, though, every former champion or finalist in the draw has issues – some bigger than others.

Previous Madrid Open Winners and Finalists

Year Champion Finalist
2021 [5] Alexander Zverev (GER) [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
2020 (Not held) (Not held)
2019 [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) [8] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
2018 [2] Alexander Zverev (GER) [5] Dominic Thiem (AUT)
2017 [4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) [8] Dominic Thiem (AUT)
2016 [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] Andy Murray (GBR)
2015 [2] Andy Murray (GBR) [3] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2014 [1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) [10] Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Rafael Nadal is Back

The king of clay estimated his return from a stress fracture to his rib suffered at Indian Wells in March to be about 4-6 weeks. Nadal was right on schedule with that.

He returns at probably his least favorite clay-court tournament.

Nadal considers the altitude in Madrid poor preparation for the conditions at the French Open; for him, five titles at a clay-court tournament is relatively few.

Mostly, he has played it because it’s in his home country. And it’s a Masters 1000. Points are points.

But no one would expect him to be in top form.

ATP Madrid Open Top Seeds – Best Previous Results

Player Appearances Main Draw Career W/L Best Result
[1] Novak Djokovic 11 28-8 Winner (2011, ’16, ’21)
[2] Alexander Zverev 4 15-2 Winner (2018, ’21)
[3] Rafael Nadal 18 54-13 Winner (5X)
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas 3 5-3 F (2019))
[5] Casper Ruud 3 4-1 SF (2021)
[6] Andrey Rublev 1 1-1 R16 (2021)
[7] Carlos Alcaraz 1 1-1 R32 (2021)
[8] Félix Auger-Aliassime 2 1-2 R32 (2019)

Even with all that, it’s hard to imagine that the winner won’t come out of the top half.

Djokovic has had some matches now, and he’s the defending champion. Alcaraz is coming in from a big win in Barcelona. And Nadal is … Nadal.

First-Round Matches to Watch

Andy Murray vs Dominic Thiem

Such bad draw luck for both veterans.

Murray, a former Madrid champion and finalist, was a late wild card after he decided not to skip the clay-court season.

Thiem, a two-time Madrid finalist, is coming back from a serious wrist injury with a re-tooled forehand that is letting him down a fair bit.

They’re 2-2 lifetime, with all the encounters close. But the only meeting on clay came more than five years ago, when both were close to or at their best. It was a three-setter, won by Thiem.

It’ll be a major grind.

Prediction: Over 2.5 Sets (+140)

Frances Tiafoe vs Cristian Garin

Tiafoe is the favorite, based upon recent form. But he’s deep into the draw in Estoril this weekend, and it’s taking every ounce of energy he has.

And Garin, while he’s been struggling mentally the last few months, is a proven clay-court player.

What’s more, the Chilean’s first sign of a light at the end of the tunnel came a few weeks ago in Houston – not coincidentally, a place where he had very positive memories.

Garin reached the quarters in Madrid, in his debut in 2021. He upset Daniil Medvedev along the way. It’s another happy place.

Definitely feels like an upset.

Prediction: Garin in Two Sets (+260)

Best Bet: Carlos Alcaraz (+400)

Longshot: Jannik Sinner (+3300)

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