ATP Madrid, 14:00 – Nieminen leads the head to heads 3-2 over Sijsling and he won their only previous clay court match in 3 sets last season. Sijsling won their most recent match which was also last season and on a hard court.
Sijsling played well in sets 2 and 3 to beat Haas in the last round. Haas is struggling with a shoulder injury and was only really able to compete at near his best for one set.
I expected Nieminen to have problems in his first round match with Haase but he came through surprisingly easily.
Neither of these two players would class clay as their favourite surface but the courts are very dry and the altitude helps the big servers. The win over Haas will have given Sijsling confidence and his serve got him out of trouble on many occasions.
If Nieminen is hitting some of his best form he is rightly the favourite but I think the courts and thin air will give Sijsling the edge.
I will look to lay Nieminen when he goes a break ahead in the first set.
WTA Madrid, 16:00 – Kuznetsova has an excellent record against Radwanska. They haven’t met since the French open 2 seasons ago but Kuznetsova has won their last 6 matches. They have met just twice on clay, both at the French Open, and Kuznetsova won both of them.
Kuznetsova has shown some excellent recent form on the clay but I am still smarting from her performance in the final in Portugal. She led 4-1 in the third set but managed to lose the next 5 games against a player who had never won a main tour title.
Radwanska has minor wobbles in matches but is usually able to stay calm and use her experience to get back into matches. She struggled with Bouchard’s aggression in the first round but always looked like being the more consistent player. Bouchard gave everything she had in the first set and had nothing left for the second which was over quickly.
Radwanska starts as slight favourite and I am going with her to get the win. Kuznetsova’s serve will vary from excellent to comical and she can’t afford to give too many breaks away to the world number 3.
I would love to back Radwanska if she goes an early break behind.