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Roger Federer, Del Potro Return To Strong Madrid Masters Draw, Rafa Nadal On Opposite Side

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina signs autographs during a training session before the Mutua Madrid Open 2019 tennis tournament at Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, 03 May 2019 EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina signs autographs during a training session before the Mutua Madrid Open 2019 tennis tournament at Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, 03 May 2019 EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The Mutua Madrid Open draw ceremony was held on Saturday morning, officially confirming Roger Federer’s return to clay and Juan Martin Del Potro’s return to tennis.

 

Federer is playing on the red stuff for the first time in almost exactly three years, last turning up at the 2016 Rome Masters. He is on track to play at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. As for his upcoming Madrid campaign, the 37-year-old Swiss will get things started against either Richard Gasquet or 19-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

 

“I feel now I can play pressure free, because what is there to lose? Nothing really,” Federer said in an interview with the New York Times. “I haven’t played on clay for three years so maybe for the first time in 15 years I can go to the French and be like, ‘Let’s just see what happens.’ And maybe that’s exactly what is going to make a beautiful result. And if it’s not, no problem. Then I have more time for the grass, and I still profited from a great buildup, and it made me strong physically, and it’s good for my game.”

 

Also in the top half of the draw along with Federer and Novak Djokovic is Del Potro, who has suited up for only one tournament this season (Delray Beach in February) due to a knee injury. The 30-year-old Argentine awaits a tough opening match against either Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere or Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic. Del Potro could meet either Marin Cilic or Nick Kyrgios in the third round before possibly running into Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

 

Federer’s difficult path could include either Monte-Carlo winner Fabio Fognini or Barcelona champ Dominic Thiem in the quarters.

 

Rafael Nadal’s bottom half of the bracket is not quite as loaded, but that’s not to say it will automatically be a cakewalk for the world No. 2. He will get started against the winner of a blockbuster first-round battle between great friends and fellow Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Nadal’s potential quarterfinal foes are Kei Nishikori, Daniil Medvedev, and Stan Wawrinka. Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas could eventually collide with the Spaniard in the semis.

 

Other first-rounders to watch are Kyrgios vs. Jan-Lennard Struff, Fognini vs. Kyle Edmund, Medvedev vs. Guido Pella, Marco Cecchinato vs. Diego Schwartzman, Borna Coric vs. Lucas Pouille, and Roberto Bautista Agut vs. David Ferrer.

 

Ferrer is playing the final event of his career.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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