An interesting development today as the Djoker withdrew from Madrid after having won four big titles already this season. He gets an exempt which means he won’t be penalized for skipping the Masters, after having played on the tour for a minimum of 12 years, as well as more than 600 matches.
- An Opportunity for Nadal
The first thing that comes to mind after the Djoker’s withdrawal is Nadal, and the fact that he could very much use the title in Madrid for his confidence. I already argued that the Djoker playing Madrid and Rome is a good thing so that he can prevent Nadal from winning any titles before the French Open, in an attempt to keep his confidence low. But as it turns out, I don’t think this is a bad decision. There is a certain amount of risk involved, but I don’t think Nadal will win Madrid.
“Try my best, no?”
If the Djoker was going to miss one of Madrid and Rome, then Madrid is the right one because it is the high altitude and Nadal is less likely to win it. There are plenty of players who can hit him off the court in his current form. Of course, Nadal will view this as a great opportunity with his nemesis not in the draw, and he will do whatever is in his power to take advantage of it. Nadal’s form is even worse than it was last year though, and already there he should have lost to Nishikori in the final of Madrid, was it not for Nishikori getting injured.
Nishikori is looking very good again this year so he is there for insurance should Nadal make the latter rounds. Nadal is always hard to predict and there is a possibility that he can win Madrid, but there is also the possibility that he can get hit off the court early on by several players. Someone that comes to mind is Isner who is very difficult to deal with in the altitude with his serve, but there are several others who could prove to be a problem for him. Who knows, maybe even Roger if he plays well.
- An Opportunity for Federer
Roger has already defeated Nadal once before in Madrid on clay. He will be the top seed in the Djoker’s absence while Nadal will be the third seed. I hope Nadal falls in Roger’s half because I don’t trust Roger to defeat Nadal if they both make the final. In fact, a match with Roger could be just what Nadal needs right now because he loves playing Roger. I prefer they don’t meet at all, but either way there is an opportunity for Roger in Madrid in the absence of the Djoker.
Fed and his clone in Istanbul
He probably needs to win Istanbul first though to have any shot in Madrid. The loss in Monte Carlo would have hurt and he needs the confidence of a title right now, especially one as small as Istanbul. If he can’t even win that then his confidence will take another hit. If he wins Istanbul then he can go to Madrid feeling good about his game and have a real shot at the title with the altitude which suits his attacking game. So this is pretty exciting for Fedfans, but first we need to see what happen in Istanbul.
- An Opportunity for Nishikori
Going by current form, Nishikori is probably the second best player on clay behind the Djoker right now. He played some amazing clay court tennis in Barcelona to win the title and other than the big three he is probably the biggest threat in Paris this year. He already made the final last year in Madrid and would have won the title had he not gotten injured. He may, in fact, be the favorite for the title in the Djoker’s absence. I’m pretty sure neither Roger nor Nadal wants to see him in their half of the draw.
A serious threat on the dirt
- Some Closing Observations
With the withdrawal of the Djoker from Madrid it certainly makes the event more open and interesting, all be it at the risk of Nadal winning the title. Fedal, Nishikori, and the likes of Raonic and Berdych will all be sensing an opportunity here. Raonic and Berdych with their big games will be a big factor in the high altitude of Madrid as well. Definitely guys Fedal does not want to see close to them in the draw either. Madrid is now quite open like I said and I’m looking forward to a very interesting event.
I think the Djoker made the right decision too. He has played an awful lot already and he does not want to burn out toward the end of the year like he did in 2011. And the facts that he will not get penalized as well as Nadal’s poor form in the high altitude makes it an even better decision. It seems he is learning and becoming quite wise with the scheduling himself, the way Roger always was. This break will do him the world of good before the big onslaught in Rome and Paris.
If he is going to finally win the French Open this year and clinch the all important career slam in the process, then he will need to be as fresh as possible and be at the height of his physical and mental powers. Let Nadal cope with difficult opponents in high altitude in front of a crowd that is basically anti-Djokovic anyway. Why waste his energy on that biased crowd when he can recharge batteries and watch Nadal deal with the likes of Nishikori, Raonic, Berdych, and Roger in high altitude?
The is in your court.