WTA Madrid, 10:00 – Clay isn’t Sloane Stephens‘ best surface and she starts as underdog against Niculescu.
Before this tournament Niculescu had lost her last 4 matches. She has had a couple of decent wins in the qualifying rounds.
Stephens has played two matches on clay in 2014. She lost them both as favourite.
The courts in Madrid should be quite fast for clay courts which should help Stephens a little.
I think this will be a messy match with plenty of price swings. It is hard to pick to eventual winner but her two matches in qualifying probably give Niculescu a slight edge. If Stephens should get an early break she has to be a lay.
ATP Madrid, 14:15 – Bautista Agut and Robredo have played twice before. Both were in 2012. Agut won on a hard court and Robredo won their clay court match.
This will be a tight match and we probably won’t see many breaks. I am favouring Robredo to take this one. He starts at 1.70 but I think we will see him above evens at some stage. Three sets wouldn’t be a surprise at all.
In other matches I think Kirilenko should be able to give Mladenovic some problems. The Russian is making a come back from injury but has one match under her belt which was in Charleston. She lost to Bencic but the second set was competitive.
They played in Madrid last year with Kirilenko winning in 3 sets. Mladenovic hasn’t been at her best on the singles court and I am looking to lay her if she goes an early break ahead.
Kerber starts around 1.40 against Garcia and while I expect her to win she won’t have an easy match. Garcia’s game is developing well and she has a lot more self belief than she used to have. Back Kerber when she is a break down.