The road to Roland Garros continues at the Caja Magica this week, as the world’s best take on the 2018 Madrid Open, which serves as the season’s fourth Masters 1000 event (second on clay) and third Premier Mandatory tournament (first on clay). Both defending champions, Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep, enter as No. 1 seeds and certain favorites, but each draw features a stacked field.
Live Stream Info
In the United States, complete coverage of the tournament will be on the Tennis Channel. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a television, you can still watch the Tennis Channel on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for DirecTV Now, a cable-free, live-TV streaming service. Here’s everything you need to know:
DirecTV Now: While there are four different channel packages you can sign up for, the Tennis Channel is included in the “Just Right”, “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” bundles. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the tournament live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal is the obvious favorite having won this tournament five times overall and three out of five times since the failed blue clay experiment in 2012. Not only that, but the King of Clay is fresh off his 11th title at both Monte Carlo (Masters 100) and Barcelona (500 series), rolling through each tournament in dominant fashion without dropping a set.
After playing sparingly during the hard-court season to rest his body, Nadal looks unstoppable as he seeks the Madrid-Rome double–he has accomplished that incredibly difficult feat just twice in his career–before seeking No. 11 at Roland Garros.
“I was patient and I had the right attitude to try and reach the clay season as fit as possible,” said Nadal. “Coming into the clay swing with four matches is not ideal preparation, but honestly I feel like I’m playing well. If my body responds, and I win matches, I think I’m ready.”
Nadal will have plenty of competition, even with Roger Federer sitting out the clay swing, but with the way he’s playing, it would ultimately be a surprise if he doesn’t add Masters 1000 title No. 32 to his name.
On the women’s side, the No. 1 ranking will be on the line. While two-time defending champ and No. 1 seed Simona Halep will be defending a bevy of points, World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki was ousted in the second round last year and thus has a chance to make up some ground with a deep run.
It won’t be easy for Wozniacki, who has advanced to the quarters just once in Madrid since making the final in 2009, but Halep is coming off an early upset loss to Coco Vandeweghe in Stuttgart, so anything could happen this week.
If neither of the top seeds break through this week, there are plenty of other contenders. Garbine Muguruza has struggled here in the past, but this is her home tournament. Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova are defending champs. Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka are making their first appearances since Miami and should be well rested. Karolina Pliskova is coming off a win in Stuttgart. Coco Vandeweghe also played well in Stutgart, though she has a tough opener against last year’s finalist Kristina Mladenovic.
The first two Premier Mandatory tournaments of the season have been won by an unseeded player (Naomi Osaka) and a 13 seed (Sloane Stephens), and it wouldn’t be surprising if the trend of unexpected results continued to Madrid.