This article is part of our Tennis Picks series.
Main draw play at the Madrid Open begins in earnest Wednesday, April 26. A few women's first-round matches were sprinkled in Tuesday, but that day was primarily used to wrap up qualifying play and set both the men's and women's fields. Madrid will be the fourth ATP Masters 1000 and fourth WTA 1000 on the 2023 calendar, sliding in just below the Grand Slams in importance. This will be the second clay-court 1000-level event for the men after Monte Carlo, and the first such tournament for the women in 2023.
This tournament functionally feels like a Grand Slam, as both the men and women will be playing a grueling seven-round schedule on the clay courts of Madrid. The 32 seeds in both draws get byes directly into the second round, though, so the Madrid Open draws are 96 players each rather than the 128 we see at Grand Slams. Additionally, all matches will be best-of-three sets, which is par for the course in the WTA game but different from the best-of-five format in men's Grand Slams.
Carlos Alcaraz is back in action after missing Monte Carlo with a hand injury, and the Spaniard just defended his title in Barcelona, so he'll have plenty of confidence as he begins his Madrid title defense. Unfortunately, the Spanish fans won't enjoy the presence of another local favorite, as Rafael Nadal remains sidelined by a hip injury. Novak Djokovic will miss this tournament with an elbow injury, once again robbing the tennis world of the opportunity to see Alcaraz face Djokovic in 2023. On the bright side, Pablo Carreno Busta (elbow) and Sebastian Korda (wrist) are in the draw; however, Jannik Sinner (illness), Matteo Berrettini (oblique), Nick Kyrgios (knee), Marin Cilic (knee) and Jenson Brooksby (wrist) aren't. Notable absences in the women's draw include Ons Jabeur (calf) and Garbine Muguruza (personal).
While Madrid Open title odds have yet to be revealed on major mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, you will be able to wager on individual matches, and it's only a matter of time until Madrid Open futures become available as well. We offer exclusive sign-up bonuses for various sportsbooks, including those that recently launched in Massachusetts.
Madrid Open Picks: Men's Tournament
Carlos Alcaraz - Alcaraz beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back en route to winning this title last year, and injuries have been the only thing stopping the 19-year-old phenom in 2023, as he's 23-2 on the year. The defending Madrid Open champ is the clear title favorite here with neither of those two all-time greats around to get in his way.
In the Mix
Andrey Rublev - Rublev's coming off his first career Masters 1000 title on the clay courts of Monte Carlo. The big-hitting Russian has been sneaky good on clay over the years, as two of his three Masters 1000 final appearances have come on the surface, and Rublev's a two-time French Open quarterfinalist. Seeded fifth in this depleted draw, Rublev will be brimming with confidence coming off his breakthrough in Monte Carlo.
Stefanos Tsitsipas - Tsitsipas failed to notch the three-peat in Monte Carlo, but he's still a two-time champion there and two-time runner-up in clay court Masters 1000 tournaments, plus Tsitsipas was a set away from winning the French Open in 2021. The No. 4 seed is the favorite to reach the final from the bottom half of the draw, though he better hope that someone else can take care of Alcaraz before the championship match, as Tsitsipas is 0-4 in his career against Alcaraz, including a loss in the Barcelona final a few days ago.
Holger Rune - Rune's still searching for more consistency, but the 19-year-old Dane has proven capable of making deep runs in Masters 1000 events. He won the Paris Masters on indoor hard courts in November and was up a break in the third set against Rublev in the Monte Carlo final before falling 7-5 in the third. Rune promptly bounced back by winning a clay-court ATP 250 title in Munich during the week between Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Lorenzo Musetti - Musetti's another next-gen player on the rise. The 21-year-old Italian has had his best results on clay, as he's 37-23 on the surface in his career and just 34-41 elsewhere. Musetti beat Djokovic in Monte Carlo before losing to Sinner in the quarterfinals, and he just pushed Tsitsipas to 6-3 in the third set in the Barcelona semis. Seeded 15th here, Musetti would have to like his chances in a potential fourth-round clash with No. 3 seed Casper Ruud given the way each has been playing recently.
Alexander Zverev - Zverev has five career Masters 1000 titles, and he's shown flashes of the superb form he had been maintaining prior to last year's devastating ankle injury. The German tends to play his best when the pressure's off, and he'll be able to swing freely in the Round of 16 against Alcaraz should both get there.
Daniil Medvedev - Medvedev just isn't the same player on clay. He's 20-24 on the surface in his career compared to 245-81 on hard courts. Medvedev's 31-4 record in 2023 includes a 29-3 mark on hard, but Rune beat him rather comfortably in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals earlier this month. A deep run from the No. 2 seed here would be surprising.
Madrid Open Picks: Women's Tournament
Iga Swiatek - Back on her favorite clay surface in Stuttgart, Swiatek dropped just one set across four matches against top-25 opponents en route to the title. Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka are neck and neck with Swiatek on hard courts, but Swiatek remains head and shoulders above the field on clay until further notice. Swiatek didn't play here last year due to an injury, but she won the clay court Grand Slam at the French Open and the other clay court WTA 1000 event in Rome. Since the start of 2022, the world No. 1 has lost only one match on clay.
In the Mix
Barbora Krejcikova - Krejcikova is the closest player to the big three of Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina based on 2023 results, and she's an established clay-court performer. She beat both Sabalenka and Swiatek en route to a WTA 1000 title in Dubai earlier this year, and Krejcikova won the French Open in 2021, sandwiching Swiatek's titles in 2020 and 2022. Krejcikova is seeded No. 11 here, but she would be favored in the fourth round against Rybakina, who has yet to establish her clay court bonafides.
Aryna Sabalenka - Sabalenka just reached the final in Stuttgart before losing 6-3, 6-4 to Swiatek, so the world No. 2 is no slouch on clay. The 2023 Australian Open champion has yet to get past the third round of the French Open in her career, so Sabalenka's still trying to close a massive gap between herself and Swiatek on clay, but Sabalenka's 23-4 record in 2023 suggests she's a contender in every tournament she plays. She'll have to be on her game early, though, as Sabalenka's second-round opponent will be Sorana Cirstea, who beat the Belarusian in Miami as one of Cirstea's three wins over top-five opponents since the start of March.
Coco Gauff - Gauff reached the French Open final last year and is 16-6 to start 2023. The 19-year-old American's best results have come on clay, where Gauff's speed makes it nearly impossible to hit through her while additional time to set up makes her extreme grip on the forehand less of a liability. She's seeded sixth here but won't have to face any higher seed before the semifinals after Jabeur withdrew late.
Elena Rybakina - Rybakina intends to play here after her back injury flared up in Stuttgart last week. The big server's game isn't as suited for clay as grass and hard, but with a title in Indian Wells coupled with runner-up finishes at the Australian Open and Miami Open already in 2023, Rybakina has been one of the best performers on the tour and shouldn't be taken lightly on any surface. She has already beaten Swiatek twice this year and could get a shot at a third win in the quarterfinals here, though Rybakina will likely have to get through Krejcikova first.
Caroline Garcia - Garcia's 18-9 record in 2023 is solid but unspectacular. She's the only player to beat Swiatek on clay since the start of last season, though, and Jabeur's withdrawal has left No. 5 Garcia as the second-highest seed in the bottom half of the draw after Azarenka. Garcia may not need her A-game early in the tournament, and if she finds it in the later rounds, she's good enough to beat anyone on her best days.
Anastasia Potapova - Potapova's in the midst of a rapid ascent towards the top 10. The 22-year-old Russian is 7-3 since the start of Indian Wells, with two wins over Gauff and a win over Garcia during that stretch. Two of her three losses came against Jessica Pegula -- 7-5 in the third and 7-6 in the third -- and the third defeat was at the hands of Sabalenka, so it has taken a top-three player to knock off the world No. 25 recently. It wouldn't be surprising to see Potapova set up a quarterfinal rematch with Pegula here.
Maria Sakkari - Sakkari comes in on a three-match losing streak, and she would have been seeded in the top eight had Jabeur withdrawn earlier. Instead, she's the No. 9 seed and could face Gauff in the Round of 16. Just getting there won't be easy for Sakkari, as she could face former French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the second round and the ascendant Donna Vekic -- who's 16-5 in 2023 -- in the third round just to get to that potential clash against Gauff.
Picks to Win the Madrid Open
Look for chalk to reign supreme, as Alcaraz and Swiatek should be even more dominant in these depleted fields. Alcaraz won't have to contend with Djokovic, Nadal or Sinner, the last of whom has proven to be his biggest rival among the next-gen crowd so far. Swiatek's in a draw without reigning Madrid champion Jabeur, who is one of the few players who can even challenge the Pole on this surface.
Given the level Krejcikova showed in Dubai, she's the biggest challenger to Swiatek's title hopes. Whoever wins their potential quarterfinal clash will likely go on to take the title. It's hard to see Alcaraz losing unless an injury flares up, but Rune seems to have the best chance to defeat a healthy Alcaraz given the Dane's form so far this clay court season.