Preview: ‘Recharged’ Thiem Leads Seeds, Rublev Ready For Debut
The top seeds are set to hit the courts as first-round action wraps up at La Caja Magica on a jam-packed Tuesday at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Third seed Dominic Thiem leads the way, set to start against American qualifier Marcos Giron under the lights inside Manolo Santana Stadium. Into the second round with a bye, the two-time Madrid finalist is contesting his first tournament since the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after taking a break to recharge.
“It had something to do with [winning] the US Open title,” Thiem said in a pre-tournament interview. “Chasing a goal for such a long time and then finally achieving it, it took a lot out of my body and my head. With all the euphoria and everything, I was playing well the rest of last year. And then in Australia, it somehow got to me a little bit. I decided to take a little bit of time off to recover and make a small reset.
“I feel recharged. I was away from tennis for a while and away from everything, so I definitely recharged and I’m ready again for everything.”
Thiem, who owns a 5-4 record on the season, is looking for his 18th tour-level title in Madrid, and his second ATP Masters 1000 crown.
Sixth seed Andrey Rublev will start his debut Madrid campaign against American Tommy Paul in the second round at Arantxa Sanchez Stadium. The World No. 7 is hoping that his snakebitten years are behind him, after a series of unfortunate events – ranging from a wrist injury and a spinal fracture to a global pandemic – kept him out of the tournament for the past three years.
“When my ranking became [high enough] and I was around 30 in the world, I was injured twice, two seasons in a row, during the summer which is the clay-court season. And then last year was pandemic,” Rublev said with a wry smile. “So unlucky three seasons already, and now finally I’m here. I’m feeling like hopefully it’s going to be my first year when I play the whole season, non-stop, all the tournaments.”
Rublev couldn’t be in a better position for his first Madrid venture, after recently reaching his first Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. Tsitsipas). He is tied for the most wins on the ATP Tour with 26, and will hope to add one more and extend his ATP Head2Head lead against Paul to 3-0.
Also in action, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini booked an all-Italian second-round battle. It will be their second career meeting, with Fogini claiming a straight-sets victory in their 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia match.
#NextGenATP stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner will also be among those searching for a spot into the second round on Tuesday. Coached by the inimitable Toni Nadal, Auger-Aliassime will face Norway’s Casper Ruud in his opening match, while Miami finalist Sinner will meet Argentina’s Guido Pella for the first time. Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori also feature, facing off for the fifth time in the first match of the day.
ORDER OF PLAY - TUESDAY, MAY 04, 2021
MANOLO SANTANA STADIUM start 11:00 am
First Round - K. Khachanov (RUS) vs K. Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 1:00 PM
WTA MATCH -  E. Mertens (BEL) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 3:00 pm
First Round -  R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [Q] M. Cecchinato (ITA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
Second Round -  D. Thiem (AUT) vs [Q] M. Giron (USA)
ARANTXA SANCHEZ STADIUM start 11:00 am
First Round -  F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
Second Round - T. Paul (USA) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
Not Before 3:00 PM
WTA MATCH -  A. Sabalenka (BLR) vs J. Pegula (USA)
Second Round -  M. Berrettini (ITA) vs F. Fognini (ITA)
WTA MATCH - [ND] M. Keys (USA) / J. Pegula (USA) vs  B. Krejcikova (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE)
STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
First Round - G. Pella (ARG) vs  J. Sinner (ITA)
First Round - C. Norrie (GBR) vs F. Krajinovic (SRB)
Second Round - A. Bublik (KAZ) vs  D. Shapovalov (CAN)
Not Before 5:00 PM
WTA MATCH - A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs  J. Brady (USA)
Second Round - A. de Minaur (AUS) vs L. Harris (RSA)
COURT 4 start 11:00 am
[Q] P. Herbert (FRA) vs A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
T. Fritz (USA) vs A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
N. Basilashvili (GEO) vs B. Paire (FRA)
K. Krawietz (GER) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
COURT 5 start 11:00 am
 H. Hurkacz (POL) vs J. Millman (AUS)
[Q] A. Popyrin (AUS) vs J. Struff (GER)
T. Puetz (GER) / A. Zverev (GER) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / H. Hurkacz (POL)
 W. Koolhof (NED) / L. Kubot (POL) vs [WC] P. Tsitsipas (GRE) / S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
COURT 6 start 11:00 am
WTA MATCH - E. Perez (AUS) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs  A. Guarachi (CHI) / D. Krawczyk (USA)
Not Before 12:30 PM
WTA MATCH - [OSE] B. Bencic (SUI) / J. Teichmann (SUI) vs N. Hibino (JPN) / R. Voracova (CZE)
WTA MATCH - [DA PR] E. Vesnina (RUS) / V. Zvonareva (RUS) vs [OSE] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / I. Swiatek (POL)
WTA MATCH -  G. Dabrowski (CAN) / D. Schuurs (NED) vs V. Kudermetova (RUS) / A. Potapova (RUS)
After Suitable Rest - S. Gille (BEL) / J. Vliegen (BEL) vs M. Fucsovics (HUN) / C. Ruud (NOR)