Madrid Open without Serena Williams Leads to Favourites Shuffle.
The Madrid Open is happening this week, with thirty-nine of the world’s top forty women’s players in action.
2-time champion Serena Williams is the only prominent absentee for this year’s draw as she continues to recuperate from oral surgery.
There’s a come-back, however, for Britain’s Johanna Konta, who skipped the Billie Jean King Cup play-offs recently with a knee injury but has recovered fully and is back for the clay-court season.
The event is taking place ahead of next month’s Roland Garros and represents an opportunity for a number of players to find form and confidence ahead of tennis’ 2nd Grand Slam of 2021.
Here are 5 of the favourites leading into the Madrid Open:
Current world number one Ashleigh Barty won her 3rd title of the season at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart last week, fortifying her position at the pinnacle of the rankings.
The Australian had a difficult start to 2021, going down to Karoline Muchova in her home Grand Slam and bowing out in the first-round at the Adelaide Invitational, but has apparently rediscovered her erstwhile form and is playing with more freedom.
Barty has also come out victorious in her last ten matches against top-ranking opposition, showing that she has taken her game to a next level.
Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka was looking poised to dislodge Barty at world number one earlier this month but endured a shock quarter final defeat to Maria Sakkari in the Miami Open.
This ended a twenty three match winning run for the Japanese star, who hadn’t lost since February 2020 prior to the upcoming competition.
Osaka hasn’t appeared since but will be eager to put together another run of form ahead of Grand Slam in Paris. The twenty three-year-old has labored on clay so far in her career though and is yet to win a accolade on the surface so far.
Though she is ranked lower than Osaka and Barty, Halep is by far the most well-off on clay courts and has made it to 18 finals on the surface, winning 9 titles.
She has played in Madrid Open finals 4 times, including back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017. The Romanian will therefore be confident of winning for a third time this time around.
However, the 2-time major winner did suffer loss to Aryna Sabalenka last week in the semi finals at Stuttgart and is still yet to win a competition this year.
Kvitová is the most effective performer in the history of the Madrid Open, having won the contest three times, most recently in 2018.
In this way, it’s difficult to look past the Czech star as a challenger, in spite of her falling out of the top 10 of the world rankings.
Intriguingly, 3 of Kvitová’s five wins came at the Madrid Open, and the former world number two has never advanced further than the 4th round of the French Open in year’s she’s won in the Spanish capital.
Kudermetova isn’t even seeded at this year’s event, but just few weeks back won her maiden WTA title at the Charleston Open, where she beat Danka Kovinić.
In that tournament, the Russian didn’t drop a set and was on a roll all week.
It’s obvious that clay is her favoured surface and at 24-years-of-age, it seems the world ranked 28 is starting to enter her prime, so could certainly spring a shocker or two in Madrid.
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