Madrid Masters 2021 predictions and betting tips

Hannah Wilks:

The Mutua Madrid Open, the biggest clay-court tournament outside of Roland Garros, returns in 2021 as a two-week event to be played from 27 April-9 May

Madrid 2021 predictions


Cancelled in 2020 due to the global health crisis, the Mutua Madrid Open returns in 2021 bigger – or at least longer – than ever before. Now technically a two-week tournament, although the ATP side of it still mainly takes place within the space of a week, the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open will take place from 27 April-9 May. Main-draw WTA matches begin on Thursday 29 April, while main-draw ATP Tour matches begin on Sunday 2 May.

Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens will be leading the field when the combined ATP Masters 1000 Series and WTA Premier Mandatory event returns in 2021. Djokovic’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2019 final saw him claim the title for a third time, but it will not be easy for the Serb to make it four Madrid titles in 2021. King of Clay

Rafael Nadal has never had the same degree of dominance in Madrid that he has enjoyed at other tournaments but he is still a five-time champion and will be keen to reclaim the title, as will 2018 champion Alexander Zverev. And Dominic Thiem, who made the final in Madrid in 2017 and 2018 only to fall short both times, returns as a Masters 1000 Series and Grand Slam champion. What will it take to stop the Austrian?

On the women’s side, Kiki Bertens was magnificent to claim the Madrid Open title in 2019, defeating Simona Halep in the final one year after finishing runner-up to Petra Kvitova. But defending the Madrid title has proved a difficult business: Since the inception of the WTA tournament in 2009, only Serena Williams (2012-13) and Halep (2016-17) have managed to win back-to-back titles in Madrid. Defending champion Bertens, two-time winner Halep and three-time winner Petra Kvitova will all be among the favourites, but the younger generation of rising players, including Naomi Osaka, Sofia Kenin and French Open winner Iga Swiatek, could all threaten.

In the unusual conditions of Madrid, where the altitude and clay blend combine to produce an idiosyncratic playing environment at the Caja Magica, there’s a sense that unlike Monte Carlo and Rome, anyone can claim the title but who will it be in 2021?

ATP Madrid Masters 2021: Men’s Tips


The fact that Nadal doesn’t enjoy quite the same degree of dominance in Madrid as he does at the other big clay-court events – he has ‘only’ won the title at the Caja Magica five times, as compared to 11 times in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, nine times in Rome and 13 times at Roland Garros – doesn’t mean that the Spaniard won’t absolutely be among the favourites.

The ball tends to fly a bit more in the high-altitude conditions of Madrid, but Nadal still hasn’t lost before the quarterfinals since 2013. Still, there are three players in the draw who can absolutely beat Nadal in Madrid: Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitspas (who did it in 2018-19 respectively) and Novak Djokovic, and a sense that he’s a bit more vulnerable at the Caja Magica than elsewhere.

Novak Djokovic on his way to the Madrid Masters title in 2019 (Photo by A. Perez Meca/AlterPhotos/ABACAPRESS.COM)

 

Defending champion Djokovic suffered a shock second-round loss to Kyle Edmund in Madrid in 2018, but it’s safe to say he was not at his best at that point, and he beat both Thiem and Tsitsipas in straight sets, back-to-back to take the title in 2019 – an impressive statement of just how good he is on clay. The all-time Masters 1000 Series title leader has won the title two of the past four years and will absolutely be among the favourites.

With Andy Murray not likely to be a big factor in the field, even if he plays, and Roger Federer’s participation uncertain after his multiple knee surgeries in 2020, the other big names to consider in relation to the Madrid Masters in 2021 are that of Thiem and Tsitsipas. Thiem made back-to-back Madrid finals in 2017-18 and has beaten both Nadal and Federer at the Caja Magica; the Austrian returns in 2021 as a Grand Slam and Masters 1000 Series champion, even if both achievements came on hard courts rather than clay, and he is a two-time French Open runner-up with a proven record of strong performances in Madrid where he has not lost before the semifinals since 2016. Tsitsipas made the second Masters 1000 Series final of his career in Madrid in 2019, beating Alexander Zverev and Nadal in back-to-back three-set matches; the ATP Finals champion was a French Open semifinalist in 2020 and the conditions in Madrid, with its somewhat faster clay, should suit him down to the ground. The Greek is a great pick to win Madrid in 2021.

Another player not to forget is Zverev, who won Madrid in 2018 although he did not have to beat Djokovic or Nadal to do so. The German made Grand Slam strides in 2020, reaching his first final at the US Open, and also made a Masters 1000 Series final in Paris, and he has a good record in Madrid.

The other player it seems necessary to mention is Daniil Medvedev – but in this case to note that the ATP Finals champion, despite a strong showing at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2019, has never won a match in Madrid so doesn’t have a good record there.

WTA Madrid Open 2021: Women’s Tips


While the bigger WTA Tour events tend to be open at the moment, the Madrid Open is actually less open than some of the others, because since its inception as a WTA tournament in 2009 there are a small group of players who have established great records there.

Chief among them is Simona Halep. With Madrid presided over by Ion Tiriac, who is obviously a huge name in Romanian tennis, Romanian women often shine in Madrid and none more so than Halep, who has been in the Madrid Open final four of the past six editions. Halep won Madrid back-to-back in 2016-17 and finished runner-up to Kiki Bertens in 2019; her overall win-loss record at the tournament is 27-8, and it feels as close to guaranteed as is possible that she will be in the mix when the closing stages of the 2021 Madrid Open arrive.

Simona Halep and Kiki Bertens after the Madrid Open final in 2019 (Credit Image: © Legan P. Mace/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire)

 

Petra Kvitova is the only woman to have won the Madrid Open three times, doing so in 2011, 2015 and 2018 (by which logic she’s due to win it again in 2021). We don’t tend to think of the big-serving Czech as a clay-courter, but the high-altitude conditions in Madrid suit the left-hander down to the ground and her 31-7 record at the Caja Magica commands respect.

Should Serena Williams play in 2021, the extended schedule of the Madrid Open might play into the American’s hands – but Williams’s focus is so exclusively on the majors now that it seems unlikely that she will play the tournament, or last through all of it if she does.

What of defending champion Bertens, who reached the final in 2018 and claimed the title in 2019? The Dutch player has only once in her career lost before the quarterfinals in Madrid and is a superb clay-courter whose big power game, like Kvitova’s, works beautifully at the Caja Magica. Bertens is nervy though and Madrid is the biggest title of her career, so she might struggle to defend it.

With the exception of Halep, it’s often power players like Kvitova and Williams who do best in Madrid, so if Naomi Osaka is to make a clay-court breakthrough, it might be more likely to come at the Caja Magica than anywhere else; Osaka’s clay game and confidence is still a work in progress but keep an eye out for the Japanese-Haitian player. Ashleigh Barty was a Madrid quarterfinalist in 2019 and the French Open champion’s big serve could serve her well in Madrid in 2021; French Open champion Iga Swiatek also has a great game for Madrid.

Madrid 2021 tournament information


Name: Mutua Madrid Open, also known as the Madrid Masters
Location: Madrid, Spain
Venue: Caja Magica
Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series/ WTA Premier Mandatory
Surface: Clay
Draw size: 56-singles (men), 64-singles (women)
Most titles:
Men – Rafael Nadal (5)
Women – Petra Kvitova (3)
Reigning champions:
Men – Novak Djokovic
Women – Kiki Bertens

WTA qualifying begins on Tuesday 27 April, with the first WTA main-draw matches taking place on Thursday 29 April. ATP qualifying begins on Saturday 1 May with the first ATP main-draw matches beginning Sunday 2 May.

The women’s singles final takes place on Saturday May 8 and the men’s singles final will be staged on Sunday May 9.

Madrid player performance


Who are the best-performing male players at the Madrid Masters

PlayerYears PlayedTitlesFinals2019 ResultWin Loss
Rafael Nadal145 (2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017)4SF50-9
Novak Djokovic113 (2011, 2015, 2019)0Champion28-8
Roger Federer123 (2006, 2009, 2012)2QF37-9
Andy Murray112 (2008, 2015)1Didn’t play21-10
Alexander Zverev31 (2018)0QF10-2
Dominic Thiem502SF13-4
Stefanos Tsitsipas201Runner-up4-2

Who are the best-performing female players at the Mutua Madrid Open?

PlayerYears PlayedTitlesFinals2019 ResultWin-Loss
Petra Kvitova103 (2011, 2015, 2018)0QF29-7
Serena Williams62 (2012, 2013)0Didn’t play24-3
Simona Halep92 (2016, 2017)2Runner-up24-7
Kiki Bertens41 (2019)1Champion14-3