© Diego Souto / Mutua Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal arrives in Madrid holding a 20-1 record on the season.

Nadal Could Meet Alcaraz In Blockbuster Madrid QF

Top seed Djokovic is seeded to meet Nadal in the semi-finals

Five-time Mutua Madrid Open champion Rafael Nadal will have to overcome a series of difficult tests if he wants to add to his trophy haul on home soil following the release of the draw Friday.

The World No. 4 is seeded to meet #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a popcorn quarter-final at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid, with top seed Novak Djokovic also in Nadal’s half of the draw.

The 35-year-old, who is competing for the first time since he reached the final in Indian Wells, will open against in-form Serb Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik, with countryman Pablo Carreno Busta a potential third-round opponent.

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Alcaraz has enjoyed a standout start to the season and arrives in Madrid high in confidence having captured his third tour-level title of the season in Barcelona. The World No. 9 will play Italian Fabio Fognini or Nikoloz Basilashvili in his first match and may face ninth seed Cameron Norrie in the third round.

If Alcaraz and Nadal both advance to the last eight, they will set a third meeting, with the lefty leading the teenager 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. Nadal holds a 20-1 record on the season with Alcaraz 23-3. The 35-year-old is No. 1 in the ATP Race To Turin, while Alcaraz is sat third.

In the top quarter, World No. 1 Djokovic will start the quest for his maiden title of the season against Frenchman Gael Monfils or Spanish wild card Carlos Gimeno Valero. The three-time Madrid champ could play either 46-time tour-level titlist Andy Murray or former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the third round, with the pair meeting in a blockbuster first-round clash.

Thiem will be competing in just his third ATP Tour tournament since last June, after being sidelined by injury for the second half of the 2021 campaign. Meanwhile, Murray will be playing on clay for the first time this year after accepting a wild card into the event. Denis Shapovalov or a qualifier will face Murray or Thiem in the second round.

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In the bottom half, fresh off defeating Novak Djokovic in the Serbia Open final, sixth seed Andrey Rublev will begin against Italian Lorenzo Sonego or #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper.

Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters victor Stefanos Tsitsipas is a potential quarter-final opponent for Rublev, but the Greek may have to first negotiate a challenging third-round test against 13th seed Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine, who starts against a qualifier, lost to Tsitsipas in an epic Monte Carlo quarter-final match in April. Tsitsipas will face Karen Khachanov or French wild card Lucas Pouille in the second round.

Second seed Alexander Zverev is the reigning Madrid champion and will start his title defence against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas or former World No. 3 Marin Cilic. Eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime is the German’s seeded quarter-final opponent. The Canadian opens against American Frances Tiafoe or World No. 30 Cristian Garin.

#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner faces American Tommy Paul in the first round, while 15th seed Reilly Opelka takes on Sebastian Korda in an-all American battle.

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