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Ricky’s picks for Saturday in Madrid, including Tsitsipas vs. Thiem

The marquee matchup of the Mutua Madrid second round features Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem on Saturday. Ben Shelton is also in action against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(WC) Dominic Thiem vs. (4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas and Thiem will be facing each other for the ninth time in their careers and for the first time since 2020 when they clash in round two of the Madrid Masters. Thiem leads the head-to-head series 5-3, but the fact that they haven’t squared off in so long is mostly due to Thiem’s absence related to a wrist injury. Although the former world No. 3 is winning a fair amount of matches in 2023, it has come with wild inconsistency. Thiem is 7-11 on the main tour in 2023 following his 6-4, 6-1 victory over Kyle Edmund on Thursday.

In two of his four Madrid trips Tsitsipas has reached the semis and the final. The Greek has a good chance of making it back to the title match in the opposite half of the draw from Carlos Alcaraz and with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on the sidelines. Coming off a runner-up effort in Barcelona, Tsitsipas will likely be too good for an opponent who is still a shadow of his former self.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 2

(LL) Jan-Lennard Struff vs. (32) Ben Shelton

It has already been an entertaining fortnight for Struff, who lost to Aslan Karatsev in the final round of qualifying. However, the big-serving German got a new lease on life at the Mutua Madrid Open with a lucky-loser spot and capitalized on it by beating Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-1 in round one.

Up next for Struff on Saturday is a first-ever showdown against Shelton, who benefited from multiple withdrawals to get the final seed and with it an opening-round bye. The American will like the fast conditions in Madrid, but he is still very much a clay-court novice. Struff, on the other hand, has enjoyed plenty of success on the red stuff throughout his career and with three matches already under his belt this week he should have a slight edge over the Aussie Open quarterfinalist.

Pick: Struff in 3

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