Madrid Masters Outright Tips: Alcaraz leads the way but do not discount Medvedev

Danil Medvedev Madrid Masters
Medvedev should enjoy quicker conditions

Focus on the ATP Tour over the next couple of weeks is on the Madrid Masters, which has now been extended into a longer event. Dan Weston returns to preview the tournament...

  • Madrid altitude creates unique clay-court challenge

  • Alcaraz odds-on favourite for the title

  • Medvedev should prefer these quicker conditions

  • Court data more in line with hard courts

    96 men's singles players line up in the Spanish capital for the upcoming Madrid Masters, the latest in high-profile clay tournaments in the run-up to the French Open. This event, though, isn't exactly preparation for Roland Garros - it's a unique tournament on the ATP Tour.

    This is because Madrid stands at some altitude - around 2000 feet above sea level - which has a marked effect on the court speed.

    Service points won percentages, aces per game and tiebreaks per set are far in excess of the clay average figures for the ATP Tour, with the numbers for Madrid more in line with what would be seen on a medium-fast hard court.

    Serve-oriented players with Madrid success

    In theory, then, this should negate some of the advantage of traditional clay-courters at this venue. Rafa Nadal has only won the event five times, and not since 2017, and for those readers not familiar with Nadal's prowess on clay, 'only five times' is a considerable decrease from his titles on slower clay courts.

    In fact, several serve-oriented players have reached recent finals - Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2019, and Matteo Berrettini in 2021. Alexander Zverev, not exactly a clay-courter specifically himself, won here in 2018 and 2021, before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in last year's final.

    Alcaraz clearly the best clay-courter in the field

    Alcaraz, rather predictably, is the pre-tournament favourite currently trading a shade of odds-on for the title at 1.9210/11 on the Exchange.

    However, the market appears unconvinced of which player should be the second favourite, with Tsitsipas 9.6017/2 just about having that status currently but the likes of the aforementioned Zverev, plus Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune all towards the top of the market as well.

    If fit, top seed Alcaraz should be too good for the field. He could face Zverev in the last 16 in a repeat of last year's final, but statistically, Zverev's level in 2023 is nothing like what it was this time last year. Rune, and Casper Ruud look the main threats in Alcaraz's top half of the draw.

    Medvedev could get through

    The bottom half of the draw is more fascinating, and could lend itself to each-way opportunities if you can get on with those terms.

    Tsitsipas is the favourite to get through this half, but I'm not a buyer of the Greek man generally, and his all-surface return data in 2023 has taken a worrying downturn. He might be tough to break in these quick conditions, but that lends itself to some high-variance spots and potentially three-setters as well.

    In these quicker conditions, I'm keen not to discount Daniil Medvedev 15.014/1. The second seed notoriously detests slow clay, but he might just get the quicker conditions he prefers here in Madrid - certainly he will be happier here than in Monte Carlo.

    He hasn't got a great track record here though, but only in 2021 did he play as a top 10 player, so there's some context to be considered as well.

    Medvedev's opening few rounds don't look disastrous in terms of difficulty, and he's clearly the second best player in the field based on all-surface data this year - by some distance.

    If he can keep his head in these quicker conditions, which he has more chance doing than on slower courts, then taking him each-way looks a solid shout here.

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