Madrid Open 2013: Full Analysis, Predictions for Top Round of 16 Matchups

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMay 9, 2013

With the 2013 French Open just a few weeks away, the best tennis players in the world are all desperate to find good form on clay heading into the Grand Slam.

The Mutua Madrid Open is a great lead-up tournament for the event at Roland Garros, and the 2013 tournament has proven to be no different, with several thrilling days of action already played out and several more intriguing days of action no doubt ahead.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has already been sensationally dumped by Grigor Dimitrov in just the second round of competition—opening up the top half of the draw for a number of players—whilst clay-court king and current World No. 5 Rafael Nadal continues to impress in his Grand Slam return after spending several months out due to injury.

The field of 64 has already been whittled down to 16 and that number looks set to halve again when action gets underway on Thursday. Which players will be booking their spot in the quarterfinals of the competition this year? Read on for a full breakdown and predictions for the top round of 16 matchups from the 2013 Madrid Open.



2013 Madrid Open: Round of 16 Schedule

Grigor Dimitrov vs. Stanislas Wawrinka [15]

Fernando Verdasco vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [7]

Andy Murray [3] vs. Gilles Simon [16]

Kevin Anderson vs. Tomas Berdych [6]

Rafael Nadal [5] vs. Mikhail Youzhny

Tommy Haas [13] vs. David Ferrer [4]

Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs. Pablo Andujar [WC]

Kei Nishikori [14] vs. Roger Federer [2]




2013 Madrid Open: Top Matchups to Watch Out For

Fernando Verdasco vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [7]

Verdasco has slipped over the last little bit in terms of his world ranking and such, but there's little doubting his ability to play high-quality tennis at times.

A little like his opponent here in Tsonga, Verdasco can be brilliant one moment and then poor the next. For most of 2013, Verdasco has been relatively poor (holding just a 3-8 record in the year so far), but will certainly not be an easy beat in this one.

Tsonga has played a lot of tennis so far in 2013 (25 games before this tournament), with a lot of those being quite long matches. Even a relatively simple second-round game against qualifier Robin Haase finished with a 7-6, 7-6 victory to the Frenchman, and as such, he likely won't put away Verdasco as quickly or comprehensively as many would think here.

The key here will be Tsonga's serve. The Frenchman has won 84 percent of his service games so far on clay this year whilst Verdasco has managed just to win just 15 percent of his opponents' service games in return. If Tsonga gets that going here, this match will be all over, but if not, we could be in for another close and well-fought battle in this one.

Verdasco is fresh off a tough, close win over a big-serving player in Milos Raonic, so he'll be well prepared for what Tsonga delivers in this match here.

But even then, I still think Tsonga will come out on top.

Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga wins in three sets.



Andy Murray [3] vs. Gilles Simon [16]

Murray holds a career 10-1 record over Simon and will be largely expected to build on that when they square off in their round of 16 matchup. But don't necessarily expect that to be automatic here.

The Englishman has only played the one clay tournament prior to this one, and he was quickly knocked out in the round of 32 by Wawrinka. And he wasn't just beat—he was demolished in a comprehensive 6-1, 6-2 victory by the Swiss star.

Contrast that then to Simon, who is playing in his third clay-court tournament here, and also has two Davis Cup games on clay under his belt also in 2013. His results and performances have been varied throughout, but at least he's played on the surface, and the same goes for the Madrid Open here.

Murray beat German Florian Mayer 7-6, 7-6 whilst Simon beat two Frenchman (and two good clay-court players) in Julien Benneteau and Jeremy Chardy. 

Simon ranks in the top 10 return games won on clay this year whilst Murray won less than half of his service points against Wawrinka. The Swiss player is in better form than Simon, and Murray does have the more impressive resume, but don't rule out Simon from challenging in this one.

Prediction: Gilles Simon wins in three sets.



Rafael Nadal [5] vs. Mikhail Youzhny

One glance at Youzhny and one glance at Nadal would suggest that this the most one-sided matchup of the round of 16 and that the Spaniard will cruise through here.

However, keep in mind two things. 

The first is that Youzhny very nearly beat Djokovic on clay earlier this year. It was the round of 32 at the Monte Carlo Masters, and granted the Serbian star was carrying an ankle injury at the time, there's still no doubting that the Russian pushed the World No. 1 all the way on clay. And as we all know, that same Djokovic beat Nadal on clay only last month.

The other important thing to remember here is that Youzhny is one of the few players in men's tennis who actually has a decent record against Nadal, 9-4 to Nadal. That might not seem like a great record, but compared to other middle-of-the-road players like Youzhny, it's a very good record indeed.

So can the Russian pull off an upset here? Maybe, but it's still not likely.

Nadal is the king of clay and he'll know that he shouldn't have lost to Djokovic. He'll be wanting to get in good form for the French Open and hit plenty of shots in these pre-Grand Slam tournaments, making a fighter like Youzhny the perfect opponent for him.

The Spaniard should win in straight sets here and extend his clay court dominance. But I can't see Youzhny being embarrassed like many would suggest.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal wins in straight sets.



Kei Nishikori [14] vs. Roger Federer [2]

I love this matchup here between Nishikori and Federer, and I think we could be in for some scintillating tennis between the 23-year-old and 32-year-old as they seek to find good form for the upcoming French Open. For as much as Federer is the favorite, Nishikori warrants some respect here.

Nishikori has been superb this year—particularly early in the year—and boasts a good clay-court record to suggest he'll put up a good fight against Federer.

Especially given that this is Federer's first clay tournament of the year.

We've seen it time and time again that whenever a player changes surfaces for the first time in a season, he struggles. It might not be as say Murray against Wawrinka, but it does happen, and against a good opponent in Nishikori, Federer will struggle here.

I can't see it being enough to see him lose this one, but this will be a lot closer than people expect (and perhaps even the scoreboard afterwards will show).

I like Federer in straight sets, but look for Nishikori to be brilliant at times here, and simply be undone by a vintage Federer performance as he warms up for the French Open in his usual dominant style.

Prediction: Roger Federer wins in straight sets.



2013 Madrid Open: Full Predictions for Round of 16

Stanislas Wawrinka [15] def. Grigor Dimitrov

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [7] def. Fernando Verdasco

Gilles Simon [16] def. Andy Murray [3]

Tomas Berdych [6] def. Kevin Anderson

Rafael Nadal [5] def. Mikhail Youzhny

David Ferrer [4] def. Tommy Haas [13]

Pablo Andujar [WC] def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver 

Roger Federer [2] def. Kei Nishikori [14]


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All statistics provided via ATP World Tour


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