The Madrid Masters is just days away from getting started, and 2013's event promises to be one of the best of all-time. With the ATP currently boasting arguably the greatest crop of players to ever play the game, the battle for this season's title promises to be exhilarating. —
Roger Federer is the defending champion here, having proven to be more than adept at adjusting to the slippery blue clay last season. He's been hiding away from the tour for the past two months, spending time with his family and working on various areas of his game in training. As a result of this there's a lot of interest surrounding his campaign, and the wisdom of his decision to leave the tour will inevitably be judged to some extent on the basis of his results in Madrid.
Federer faces outrageously tough competition for the Madrid Masters title. Novak Djokovic looks like the main man in the singles draw, having unseated Rafael Nadal from his Monte Carlo throne for the first time in almost a decade. The world No. 1 currently holds a handsome lead at the top of the rankings, and he's the one man who looks capable of regularly beating the 'King of Clay'.
Regardless of his Monte Carlo defeat, there are many who consider Rafa to be the real favourite for this title. The Spaniard is a two-time champ here, and he's reached the final in all six of the tournaments that he's entered since making his return from knee injury earlier in the year. He won last week's Barcelona Open title, and never really looked troubled on his way to glory.
Some people will consider Andy Murray to be a serious threat too, though the Scot didn't exactly get his clay court season off to a flyer. Murray has vowed that this season will be his best on the red dirt and he's spent time in Monaco with Ivan Lendl to sharpen up. Even so, many people will be quick to point out that Stan Wawrinka dished out a straight set thrashing to Murray just a few weeks back.
There are several other players to watch out for in Madrid. David Ferrer will be keen to exhibit his clay court mastery, and Tomas Berdych will be hoping to go one better than his runner-up finish in 2012. Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will also be in action and vying for the title.
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