Madrid Draw: Possible Nadal-Alcaraz Rematch

La Caja Mágica

MADRID/WASHINGTON, April 30, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

The Mutua Madrid Open men’s singles draw was revealed Friday evening at La Caja Mágica – the Magic Box – and it’s filled with plenty of excitement and intrigue as the European clay season, which started two weeks ago, is in full swing.

The upper half of the 56-player draw features top seed and three-time Madrid winner Novak Djokovic, five-time champion No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal, No. 5 seed Casper Ruud and No. 7 seed Carlos Alcaraz. Plus, toss in Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem, No. 12 seed Hubert Hurkacz and Roberto Bautista Agut for good measure.

Meanwhile, the lower half includes 2021 champion and this year’s No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev, No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev and No. 8 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. Also, there’s No. 13 seed Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov, No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner and Sebastian Korda, too.

With the question of whether Djokovic and Nadal could face each other before the final settled – yes, they could meet a week from now in the semifinal round – there was plenty of buzz surrounding a possible quarterfinal matchup involving Nadal and Alcaraz, who are in the same quarter of the upper half.

Plenty of buzz about Nadal and Alcaraz

The 35-year-old Nadal, who is appearing in his first tournament since he reached the final in Indian Wells, will open against either Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik in the second round after receiving a first-round bye. Then, he could face fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta in the third round, Alcaraz in the quarterfinals and Djokovic in the semifinals.

Nadal began the season with 20 consecutive wins and won back-to-back-to back titles at the Melbourne Summer Set, the Australian Open and Acapulco – all on hard courts – before losing the title match at the BNP Paribas Open to Taylor Fritz. Since then, Nadal has been recovering from a stress fracture in one of his left ribs, which he suffered during Indian Wells.

As for the possibility of a third Alcaraz-Nadal meeting, which the 21-time major champion leads the head-to-head 2-0, the 18-year-old Spanish teenager (23-3) recently captured his third ATP tour-level title of the season in Barcelona following earlier triumphs in Rio de Janeiro and Miami. The World No. 9 begins his Madrid adventure against either Fabio Fognini or Nikoloz Basilashvili. He could face No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie in the third round.

Djokovic still chasing after first title of the season

World No. 1 Djokovic comes into the season’s second Masters 1000 on clay still in search of his first title of 2022. He will begin against either Gaël Monfils or Spanish wild card Carlos Gimeno Valero. Then, he could meet face either wild card Murray or Thiem, who square off in the opening round, in a third-round match. The Murray-Thiem winner will likely play No. 14 seed Denis Shapovalov in the second round.

Djokovic has been sluggish and his lack of match activity due to being unvaccinated, which kept him out of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami, has limited him to just eight matches. Djokovic hopes to improve upon his 5-3 win-loss record, in which he was a quarterfinalist at Dubai, lost in the second round at Monte-Carlo and was a finalist last week in Belgrade.

Defending champion Zverev hoping to rebound from Munich

Second seed Zverev is the reigning Madrid champion and will begin his title defense against either Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who is a semifinalist this weekend in Estoril, or Marin Cilic. Zverev is hoping to recover from a 6-3, 6-2 drubbing by Danish teenager Holger Rune at the BMW Open by American Express in Munich. Zverev could face Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals and Tsitsipas in the semifinals.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas will play the winner between wild card Lucas Pouille and Karen Khachanov in his first match and could catch Schwartzman in the third round. Rublev is potential quarterfinal opponent for Tsitsipas.

Around La Caja Mágica

The 28-player qualifying draw runs through the weekend and overlaps with the start of the first round of the main draw on Sunday. The singles final is Sunday, May 8.