Iga Swiatek’s return to the Mutua Madrid Open could see her face fellow US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the world No.1’s first appearance at the iconic Caja Magica since 2021.
During a dominant stretch that saw her amass 37 consecutive victories, Swiatek was forced to miss the action in Madrid last year with a right shoulder problem and is set to contest the tournament for just the second time in her career.
The two-time Roland-Garros champion arrives in Madrid in red-hot form, fresh off of a successful title defence in Stuttgart, where she defeated world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday’s final.
In an expanded 96-player draw, Swiatek headlines an impressive field and awaits in round two the winner of the opening clash between Raducanu and a qualifier. The 21-year-old Pole and three-time Grand Slam champion shares the top quarter of the draw with Wimbledon champion and No.7 seed Elena Rybakina.
The big-serving Rybakina retired during her second match in Stuttgart a few days ago, citing a lower back issue, and will take on either Czech teen Brenda Fruhvirtova or Anna Kalinskaya in round two in Madrid.
Defending champion Ons Jabeur, who made history at the Caja Magica last year when she became the first Arab to lift a WTA 1000 trophy, also carries some injury concerns as the Tunisian made a tearful semi-final exit in Stuttgart on Saturday, hurting her calf and retiring just three games into her clash with Swiatek.
Seeded fourth in Madrid, Jabeur has landed in the bottom half of the draw and shares a quarter with American teenager and No.6 seed Coco Gauff.
Last year’s finalist Jessica Pegula, the No.3 seed, kicked off her clay campaign with a semi-final showing in Charleston earlier this month and is in the top half of the draw. The consistent American faces Jasmine Paolini or a qualifier in her opening test and shares a quarter with No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina and an in-form Anastasia Potapova.
Reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka, who won the Madrid title in 2021, leads the tour with four finals reached this season. The No.2 seed start the year with 13 consecutive victories and is 23-4 win-loss overall in 2023. Sabalenka will take on Romanian Sorana Cirstea or American Lauren Davis in her opener, with French No.5 seed Caroline Garcia looming ahead as a possible quarter-final opponent.
This year’s Mutua Madrid Open will witness the long-awaited return of some other favourites with ex-world No.3 Elina Svitolina and former Wimbledon semi-finalist Barbora Strycova coming back to the tournament for the first time since becoming mothers.
Svitolina welcomed her baby daughter Skai with husband Gael Monfils last October and was back competing earlier this month in Charleston. The Ukrainian opens against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Madrid.
Strycova, who hasn’t played since the 2021 Australian Open, gave birth to her first child, Vincent, in September 2021. The 37-year-old Czech will play her comeback match against Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu appears to have recovered from two torn ligaments in her left ankle, sustained in Miami last month, and is seeded No.23 in Madrid this fortnight. The Canadian will play Varvara Gracheva or Wang Xiyu in her opener.
Home favourite Paula Badosa is the No.26 seed and gets the winner of the first-round encounter between Strycova and Cocciaretto. A potential mouth-watering third round could see Badosa square off with Gauff.
WTA main draw action kicks off on Tuesday April 25 with the singles final taking place on Saturday May 6.