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Will Halep live up to 'favourite' tag? Get WTA Madrid Open tips

Leye Aduloju 5 May 2019
  • Outright tips for the 2019 Madrid Open
  • Madrid Open is live from 4-11 May
Simona Halep (credit: JB Autissier / Panoramic via Images)

It’s another extremely open WTA field, as the best players in the world battle for the Madrid Open title- the biggest clay-court event on the tour outside Roland Garros.

World No. 1, Naomi Osaka leads the field, which includes every member of the world’s top ten, and nineteen of the world’s top-20- the only exception being Serena Williams. 

Given recent form and history, defending champion, Petra Kvitova (10/1 @ bet365) is arguably the player to beat in Madrid. The Czech has enjoyed the quicker conditions in the Spanish capital over the years, winning the title three times, more than any other player has managed in the tournament’s short history. Kvitova also arrives Madrid in great form, having won the Stuttgart title, beating Anett Kontaveit in the final. The Czech left-hander has generally had a superb season, winning the Sydney title, and reaching other finals at the Australian Open and Dubai. She will have to reproduce all of that form from the get-go in Spain as she opens against dangerous American, Sofia Kenin, while Caroline Garcia, Madison Keys and Kiki Bertens are all possible pre-semi final opponents in a very precarious draw.

Despite all of Kvitova's credentials heading into Madrid, Simona Halep (11/2 to win the title @ bet365) is actually the bookmakers' favourite to win the title. The two-time winner is still without a trophy since last August, but she remains one of the finest clay-court players currently on tour, and will like her chances of terminating that title drought at some point during this clay season. Injuries have played a part in her current trophy-less run, as she missed the end of last year with a back problem, and recently pulled out of Stuttgart with a hip injury sustained while on Fed Cup duty with Romania. Unlike Kvitova, Halep has got a fairly accommodating draw, with Julia Goerges, who has been out of form lately, Ashleigh Barty and Elina Svitolina as the main obstacles on her potential path to a quarter final.

World No. 1, Naomi Osaka (14/1 @ bet365 to win the Madrid title) has not done much in her career on clay, but then again, she has been breaking new grounds over the last year and a half. Will she make her clay-court move in Madrid? She has never won a match in the Spanish capital, losing to Shuai Zhang in her main draw debut last season. Osaka’s results haven’t been the greatest in the last few months, judging of course, by the standards she set at the Australian Open. She didn’t make a quarter final in the three tournaments after Melbourne, but she broke that trend in Stuttgart, where she made the semi-finals before losing to Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit is a potential third round opponent for the Japanese in Madrid, but before then, the top seed will have to get through a tough opening round against 2016 finalist, Dominika Cibulkova. Karolina Pliskova is a possible fourth round opponent, while Simona Halep looms in the last eight. It’s a very difficult draw for the No. 1.

Like Simona Halep earlier, top ten stars, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens are still seeking their first titles of the season, but I’m not very confident in their chances of winning in Madrid. Stephens (18/1 to win @ bet365) has generally been poor all season, and has never been beyond the third round in Madrid, while Kerber (18/1 @ bet365) has looked good in spells but has not had that extra push to get over the line. Svitolina (14/1 @ bet365), to my mind, has the best chance trio as she has been the most consistent on clay in recent years, but she comes in under an injury cloud, as she is yet to play since an opening round exit at the Miami Open. Also, the Ukrainian has never been beyond the second round in Madrid.

I definitely think Halep and Kvitova, just like the bookmakers suggest, are the favourites for the title; last year’s beaten finalist, Bertens (14/1 @ bet365) is always dangerous on clay, (and anywhere these days!); and former Roland Garros semi-finalist, Karolina Pliskova (14/1 @ bet365), who is having a good season, and is always improving on clay, cannot be discounted. The home challenge is spearheaded by Garbine Muguruza, who at 14/1 @ bet365, is surprisingly high up there among the bookies favourite, despite a fairly average season so far, and her relative struggles in Madrid, where she has never been past the third round.

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