ATP Madrid, 13:00 – Nishikori and Raonic have met just once before. That was in the Tokyo final in 2012 and Nishikori won in 3 sets.
Raonic perhaps isn’t a player you would expect to be good on clay but he has a winning record on this surface in the last 12 months (just).
Nishikori’s game seems well suited to conditions in Madrid. The thin air allows him to go for his serve a little more than usual and he has all the shots needed to perform well.
With the courts being dry and fast Nishikori will need to take a lot of balls at shoulder level off the Raonic serve. This usually forces opponents to drop back further behind the base line and Raonic has a decent touch around the net to take advantage.
I have to side with Nishikori’s all round game to get the win here but it will be a tight match and it is likely he trades a fair bit higher than his 1.47 SP.
Update: Nishikori won 7-6, 7-6.
WTA Madrid, 15:00 – Garcia is having quite a season. She won the title in Bogota and has won her last 10 matches. She has only dropped 1 set in those 10 matches.
She has come through the qualifying rounds this week and has had some luck in the last 2 rounds. Kerber retired in their second set and Kirilenko pulled out yesterday during the warm up.
Errani is going well on the clay as you’d expect. She reached the semi final in Stuttgart where she was over powered by Sharapova and has beaten Petkovic and Schiavone in straight sets this week.
Errani can often go a break behind at the start of matches and Garcia has the game to put her under pressure. I think Garcia has an outside chance of winning today but I will be backing Errani when she is a break behind.
Update: Errani couldn’t cope with Garcia’s serve for most of the first set. She levelled the match at one set all but it was Garcia who took the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
ATP Madrid, 16:15 – I was favouring Almagro to beat Murray yesterday. Unfortunately he was carrying an injury and won just 1 game in the opening set. To demonstrate how Murray has so much to learn on clay despite his opponent being injured Almagro won the second set 6-1 and had chances to take the match in the third.
Giraldo beat Tsonga in straight sets yesterday and is a strong clay court opponent for most players. He will push Murray hard today. Whether he beats the Scot will depend on how much benefit Murray takes from the Almagro match. That last match was his first for a while which may have contributed to his erratic play.
Murray starts at 1.47 and unless he gets off to a very quick start I expect him to trade higher. I will lay him if he goes ahead early.
Giraldo has recent wins over Nishikori, Kohlschreiber, Thiem and Almagro and it won’t be a shock if he takes this very close.
Update: Giraldo won 6-3, 6-2.