The route to the Mutua Madrid Open trophy has been set after Friday’s draw in the Caja Mágica. The 64 contenders for victory in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 on Spanish clay now know which players will meet in the main draw, which gets underway on Sunday with the best players in the world.
Number one seed Andy Murray is on a collision course with Dominic Thiem, whom he may meet in the quarter-finals. The Briton could be part of a vibrant match in his opener, where he awaits the winner of the clash between Guillermo García-López and the Romanian Marius Copil.
For his part, Stan Wawrinka will be bidding to stamp his authority on a venue where only the Big 4 have managed to get their hands on the trophy. The Swiss is guaranteed an intense first match against the victor of the tie between Benoit Paire and Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta.
In the bottom half of the draw, in search of his fifth crown in the Spanish capital, is Rafael Nadal, who finds himself in a branch of the draw where he could meet Canadian player Milos Raonic. The home favourite will start his campaign against the winner of the match between two players who have proven their steel on clay; Portuguese player Joao Sousa and the Italian Fabio Fognini.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic shares his corner of the draw with the Japanese Kei Nishikori, who he will meet in the quarter finals if all goes as expected. The Serbian second seed will start his tournament against the winner of the match between Tommy Robredo and Nicolás Almagro, the only all-Spanish tie in the opening round.
The rest of the Spanish players are sure to provide thrills and spills from the word go. Roberto Bautista will meet the Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who has one of the most venomous serves on tour. One of the most enticing clashes is that of Fernando Verdasco, who will square off against the young German Alexander Zverev.
In the bottom of the draw Marcel Granollers will take on the German Florian Mayer, Albert Ramos will stare down the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, and David Ferrer awaits a player from the qualifiers, as does Feliciano López.
Now that the draw has been made and the challenge of negotiating an adrenaline-packed week is on the horizon, the most talented players on tour are relishing their chance to compete on the Caja Mágica clay.