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Mutua Madrid Open draw: Djokovic, Nadal, and Alcaraz all in top half

Rafael Nadal (R) and Carlos Alcaraz (L) of SPain pose ahead round of their 2021 Mutua Madrid Open meeting. EPA-EFE/CHEMA MOYA

By Ricky Dimon

The Mutua Madrid Open draw ceremony was held on Friday evening and the field is loaded with Rafael Nadal back in action and Novak Djokovic able to play.

Both Djokovic and Nadal find themselves in a stacked top half of the bracket that also includes Miami and Barcelona champion Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal vs. Alcaraz is a potential all-Spanish quarterfinal showdown, with the winner possibly to battle Djokovic in the semis. Of course, neither Spaniard will be looking that far ahead. Nadal’s opening match is likely to come against a red-hot Miomir Kecmanovic, while Alcaraz could run into either Cameron Norrie or John Isner in the last 16.

Djokovic can expect to see Gael Monfils in his opener before potentially meeting Denis Shapovalov, Andy Murray, or Dominic Thiem in round three. Murray vs. Thiem is one of the more intriguing first-round matchups. Casper Ruud is the other top eight seed in Djokovic’s section.

The bottom half of the draw is far less daunting, which could be just what the doctor ordered for Alexander Zverev. Although Zverev’s results dating back to late February are underwhelming, it’s not like he needs any help in Madrid. The third-ranked German is the defending champion and has won the title in two of the last three years (not including 2020, when the tournament was canceled). Zverev could go up against either Reilly Opelka or Sebastian Korda in the third round followed by a possible quarterfinal date with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Alexander Zverev is defending Madrid champion. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Andrey Rublev is the other projected quarterfinal based on seeding. Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz could have something to say about that if he faces Rublev in the round of 16. The start of Tsitsipas’ path through the bracket could be Karen Khachanov and then Diego Schwartzman.

In addition to Murray-Thiem, other first-round matches to watch are Opelka vs. Korda, Fritz vs. Jenson Brooksby, Jannik Sinner vs. Tommy Paul, and Pablo Carreno Busta and Botic van de Zandschulp.

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