The route to the final in the Caja Mágica is now set in stone. With the women’s main draw kicking off tomorrow, we take a look at 5 potential first-round thrillers:
Cristina Bucsa – Rebeka Masarova:
One of the biggest matches in the opening round will be the clash that brings together Spaniards Cristina Bucsa and Rebeka Masarova. The two home players will be keen to make an impression in front of their people as they battle it out for a place in the second round.
Cristina Bucsa arrives in Madrid with her highest career ranking (70) and a few months after having produced her best Grand Slam finish in Australia, where she saw off US Open champion Bianca Andreescu before losing out in round three to world number one Iga Swiatek. For her part, Rebeka Masarova will be playing in the main draw at the Mutua Madrid Open for the first time. Having received an invitation to play in the tournament, the Spaniard with Swiss roots will be looking to extend her recent run of good form after reaching the final in Oeiras.
Elina Svitolina – Aleksandra Sasnovich
Elina Svitolina comes to Madrid having recently become a mother. The Ukrainian player, who was also granted a wildcard by the organisers, will be hoping to climb the ranking in order to return to the No. 3 spot she occupied in 2017. On the other side of the net she will find a tough competitor in Aleksandra Sasnovich, who is looking for a repeat of her appearance in 2019, when she reached the last sixteen before bowing out to Naomi Osaka.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Victoria Jimenez
2018 French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s opener will be one of the biggest first-round ties in a clash of generations as she takes on 17-year-old Andorran player Victoria Jiménez. At 31 years of age, Pavlyuchenkova will be looking to stop one of the young guns in her tracks at an event that is to her liking and where she reached the semi-finals in 2021 before falling to Grand Slam champion Aryna Sabalenka. For her part, Vicky is bidding to reach the second round for the first time in her career.
Sloane Stephens – Jaqueline Cristian
2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens arrives in Madrid in search of her eighth career title. The player coached by Francis Roig is a self-confessed lover of clay and she faces debutante Jaqueline Cristian in the first match of a campaign in which she will hope to reproduce the kind of form that took her to the semi-finals in Madrid in 2019.
World number one, Iga Swiatek will have a close eye on the movements of the 2021 US Open champion. Young Briton Emma Raducanu will cross swords with a player from qualifying in a match whose victor will play the Pole in round two.