Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev lead the field at the Madrid Masters

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Played just a few weeks before the clay-court season comes to its climax at the French Open, the Madrid Masters is a key battleground ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros as well as a significant prize in its own right and, as one of nine Masters 1000 Series events played throughout the year, boasts a field packed with the biggest stars.

Rafael Nadal is sure to be rapturously received by the Spanish crowds when he takes to the court at the Caja Magica. The Madrid Open has been Nadal’s least productive event of all those big clay-court meets, as the great Spaniard has won ‘just’ the five titles at the tournament, while he is already into double figures at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros, and has 7 titles in Rome. That of course in no way diminishes the immense accomplishments of the 31-year-old, who crossed 400 career wins on clay in Barcelona, where he also picked up his 55th title on the surface.

The ‘King of Clay’ doesn’t quite enjoy the same special relationship with the high-altitude, slippery Madrid clay that he has with the clay of Roland Garros for example, but has nevertheless triumphed five times in Madrid – once back in 2005, when it was still held on hard courts, and four times since, including in 2017 when he triumphed at the Caja Magica as part of a splendidly resurgent clay season.

There are some notable absentees from the 2018 Madrid Open, with Roger Federer once again deciding to skip the clay-court season, and Andy Murray still recovering from surgery, but two-time former champion, Novak Djokovic joins the field, still seeking the form that yielded 12 major titles and a lengthy spell as the No. 1 player in the world.

Then there are those players who have yet to break through in Madrid. Dominic Thiem, the rising Austrian who has twice been an French Open semifinalist, finished runner-up to Nadal at the Madrid Masters in 2017 and would love to go one better. Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov both won Masters 1000 Series titles – a rare achievement for anyone outside the ‘Big Four’ – in 2017 and won’t be keen to rejoin the rank and file, while David Goffin continues to add effectiveness to his fleet-footed game and the local crowds will be keen to see Pablo Carreno Busta continue his upwards momentum.

With the likes of Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic also threatening, and the young guns, spearheaded by Hyeon Chung and Borna Coric, gaining confidence and momentum, the 2018 Madrid Masters promises to be as packed with great matches as its draw is with stars when it begins on Sunday 6 May.

Rafael Nadal have to win the tournament for the 6th time if he wants to keep his Number 1 spot in the ATP Tour Rankings. If he fails then Roger Federer will return to number 1 without even playing a single match on clay.

You can watch the tournament live on our website starting May 6th via our live stream section. And if you want to place some bets, you will find the best tennis betting odds, before the tournament begins.