Madrid R1 previews and predictions: Zverev vs. Verdasco, Carreno Busta vs. Paire

Two of last week’s champions, Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno Busta, will be back in action at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday. Zverev is going up against Fernando Verdasco, while Carreno Busta is facing Benoit Paire.

Alexander Zverev vs. Fernando Verdasco

Zverev and Verdasco will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they collide in round one of the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday. Their only previous encounter came on the indoor hard courts of Metz in 2015, when Verdasco got the job done 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-3. Fast forward two years and Zverev is obviously a much different opponent at this point in time. The 20-year-old German owns three ATP titles after lifting another trophy just last week on the clay courts of  Munich. Zverev is now 18-8 this season and 7-2 on the red stuff, with one of those two losses coming to eventual Barcelona champion Rafael Nadal.

Verdasco is a modest 13-9 in 2017 and his clay-court swing is off to an unspectacular start. The 35th-ranked Spaniard got blown out by Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4 in the Houston quarterfinals and fell to Laslo Djere 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 at the same stage in Budapest. A considerable edge in current form goes to Zverev, who is making a quick turnaround following a long week in Munich but was forced to play only one three-setter en route to the title.

Pick: Zverev in 3

Benoit Paire vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

Like Zverev, Carreno Busta also captured the third title of his career on Sunday. The 18th-ranked Spaniard won four consecutive matches in straight sets (over Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro, David Ferrer, and Gilles Muller) to lift the Estoril trophy and improve to 22-11 in 2017. His season also includes a runner-up performance on the red clay of Rio de Janeiro and a semifinal showing in Indian Wells.

Up first for Carreno Busta on Tuesday is a fifth career showdown against Paire. The head-to-head series is all tied up at two wins apiece and 1-1 on clay. They most recently faced each other last spring in Estoril, where Carreno Busta cruised 6-3, 6-3. Paire has played just about every single week this year and has a mediocre 14-13 record at the ATP level to show for his efforts. The 52nd-ranked Frenchman is 1-4 in his last five matches dating back to the Marrakech semifinals and he is coming off a 6-3, 6-2 setback against Nicolas Almagro in the Estoril first round. As if Carreno Busta needs any help at the moment, he will get it from the Spanish crowd and should coast into the last 32.

Pick: Carreno Busta in 2

79 Comments on Madrid R1 previews and predictions: Zverev vs. Verdasco, Carreno Busta vs. Paire

  1. Sasha still has to prove himself in my opinion. Yes he won Munich but he doesn’t win his matches that easily yet.

  2. Inconsistency is still an issue for Zverev, and I’m not sure if his title run in Munich will make him burned out or not. He could be tired, or he could just be well-oiled… My gut tells me to pick Zverev here, but there is solid upset potential in this match. We shall see!

    • I agree about inconsistency being an issue with Zverev. It’s hard to know if his title run at Munich will leave him tired or not. That’s the thing with these young guys. You never know if winning a title will help them or hurt them in the next tournament.

      I also think Zverev needs to work on his fitness and build up muscle. He’s still young and extremely gifted, but a work in progress.

      I had the same questions when I was making picks for my bracket. I think that I did pick him, but an upset would not be a total surprise.

      One thing I really like about Zverev is mental toughness and competitive spirit. He’s a fighter. That will stand him in good stead as he continues to get better.

    • Having the same questions about the Verdasco/Zveŕev match. My pick was for Verdasco to perform well at home! Yeah, right, hey? But now I’m feeling Sascha’s going to make it. I picked my bracket right after Sascha won Munich.

    • Hawkie, I’m sorry to say this because I think you like Tommy Haas, but Tommy’s time to join the other league has come, imo.

      Herbert will win!

      • I’m ambivalent about him. Just respect him continuing to play over the last few years at such a late age or trying to despite so many injuries highlighted by his win over ? on grass in Halle several years back.

        But yeah time for the glue factory.

    • I didn’t realize Verdasco was also on the Hawkeye shit-list haha. What did he do that involved Rafa to make you not like him? 🙂

  3. My bracket picks for WTA suck like never before!

    ATP bracket isn’t my best effort either; at least I picked the right final…two, maybe.

  4. Nando is virtually handing him the match but he can’t even take it. Zverev’s breaks of serve have been purely Verdasco’s fault.

  5. Zverev is havibg his troubles in this first set. Zverev DF’s away the break of serve as he was serving for the first set.

  6. Zverev is playing well enough to beat Nando. He doesn’t have to be at his best. He’s got more than enough to take care of the likes of Nando.

    • Not in my opinion. Verdasco is an experienced player with a great serve and movement but sometimes he doesn’t really turn up. Sasha is not living up to the hype.

  7. It’s a typical performance from Nando.

    Even so, it’s disappointing. I picked him to win a couple rounds at home.

    Alex has no apparent trouble with recovery or changes in conditions from Munich to Madrid.

    • rc,

      Yes, I agree. Zverev finished strong and seems to have rebounded well from the win in Munich and appears to be handling the conditions in Madrid well.

      I have to say that I really like Zverev. Out if the young guys, he has impressed me quite a bit. I think the potential is great for him. He could really achieve lot in this sport.

      • Nny

        Agree from Sascha’s side it was another solid, mature win. He gets far too much hype, at least on Tennis Channel tho. I wish they’d tone it down. But the future appears bright for him. Of the young guys, I get the most entertainment out of Kyrgios and admire Thiem.

        Let’s see if he can go one more step here and beat Marin Cilic! That would be impressive. Haha…I picked Nando to beat Cilic – what was I thinking.

        • I don’t expect Zverev to beat Cilic unless Cilic has a bad day at the office.

          I’m pleased Rafa put Zverev in his place in Monte Carlo because the match point he had against Rafa was becoming his middle name. It’s a fact that taking even a set against Rafa is an important part of players’ CV even in the last few years when Rafa was coping with one injury after another.

          Zverev needs to get his head out of the clouds and develop his game. He should forget about being the future #1. That’s such a burden for him to live up to. His game is not yet developed even to be in the top 15, so they should calm down and take it step by step. Everyone seems impatient for the young players to make their mark, but not everyone can achieve what the Big 4 achieved in their early 20s, and as a teenager in Rafa’s case.

          I remember how excited everyone was about 6 years ago when Raonic came on the scene saying he was the new Sampras etc. and I remember saying I hadn’t seen anything to get excited about apart from his big serve. So far, Raonic hasn’t lived up to the hype.

          • Yep, Dimi too, when everyone was so excited over him, being the junior Wimbledon champion and played with a SHBH and a game similar to Fed’s. Look what happened to Dimi?

            It’s not only Raonic/Dimi’s batch but now it’s the Kygrios/Zverev batch that may not live up to expectations. People want to see a teenage star or a teenager winning slams, but 16-17 years had past, since a teenager won a slam (we know who that boy was) and we are still waiting for one to appear.

            Not every promising youngster can be a Rafa, or a Fed or a Djoko. Perhaps getting to be like a Murray (i.e. winning a slam at 25 after getting to a few finals) may be more realistic and achievable; or a Stan who started winning big at age 28. The big four are not done yet so I think these youngsters will have to wait.

            • Correction, it’s ’11-12 years had past since a teenager won a slam’, not 16-17 years!

            • The teenagers of the past didn’t have the Bog Four to contend with.

              That, and this is not your father’s tennis.

              Hope this helps.

            • What do you mean by my poor memory?

              When Becker and Chang were winning slams as teenagers, there were McEnroe and Connors and Borg and Lendl to contend. The BIG 4 were the high fliers in their young days and they are not going anywhere.

            • “Everyone said Raonic was the new Sampras.”

              Becker and Chang winning slams having to contend with Borg????? And old JMac and Old Connors????

              Hilarious!!!!

              So typically nadline.

              Ok, I only respond to one strawman post from you per year.

              Carry on.

          • Agree about Raonic, and to a lesser extent Zverev, who particularly needs to work on his serve, imo. But Zverev is a lot younger than Raonic with a lot more potential.

            However, I do think Kyrgios is different. For one, he’s already beaten 3 of the big 4. He has the whole game, right now. His fitness/injury-proneness is a bit of an issue, but his biggest issue has always been his mental commitment, which he’s starting to make. Given his age (just turned 22), he’s the next Gen player with the most promise; it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win a slam this year. (Odds-makers currently have him 4th favourite at Wimby, behind Raonic).

          • Zveŕev has beaten Cilic the last two times they met; both last season hard courts. Marin beat 18 yr old Sascha on hc back in 2015.

            Sascha has a better YTD record =
            18/8 vs Cilic’s 11/8. They’ve never never met on clay. Conditions in Madrid I dont think favor one or the other. For me it’s a good match-up. Cilic is less consistent this season but perhaps he’s riding some confidence too after a clay title win in…wherever it was last weekend. Was it Istanbul? Or Estoril? ?

            A better match than we saw today, anyway.

        • rc,

          I think that Kyrgios probably has the most talent with the most complete game. In the Barcelona final in that first set, I was reminded of Thiem’s talent and skill on clay. They are both entertaining and exciting to watch.

          But there is something about Zverev that has gotten my attention. I like his spirit and how he fights to stay in matches. I enjoyed his match with Isner and thought he hung in there in impressive fashion. I don’t normally get too excited about young guys and start predicting their future. I did not think that Raonic was going to be the next Sampras. I don’t get carried away.

          I am not going to predict Zverev’s future, nor am I going to let anyone here presume to tell me what to think about him or his potential in this sport.

          I am aware that Zverev did not have to play his best to beat Nando. Nando made it easier for him, as he usually does. But I do agree with you that it was a mature win. It’s like building blocks as s young player matures. Wins are different in many ways. But Zverev is doing what he needs to do right now.

          There are things he needs to work on of course. But he is progressing well and I have a good feeling about him.

          Kyrgios could do great things in this sport, but I am concerned about his attitude and commitment. He’s shown more focus lately and better conduct on the court. But I don’t know if he is disciplined enough.

          It’s just nice to see these great young guys as they develop and work yo become even better!

  8. Verdasco never fail to disappoint! I remember him having five MPs vs Djoko but still ended up losing the match! He just seemed to hit as hard as possible with no precision and so ended up misfiring all over the place.

    Among the youngsters, Kygrios is the one who can play with some varieties, not just big serving and hard hitting. The thing about him is that he likes to show off some trick shots during his matches, and sometimes instead of impressing, they misfired. If Kygrios’ head is screwed on properly, he may be the one leading this younger pack in future when the big four are done. Still, I doubt that Kygrios would win a slam as a teenager had he been serious enough during his teenage days.

    • Yes, Krygios is the one with the most potential IMO. He doesn’t seem too bothered about his tennis career because he pulls out of tournaments at the drop of a hat. Sadly, Kokkinakis has been hampered with injury because he seemed to want to go places.

  9. Verdasco is so frustrating lol. Zverev didn’t really have to play that well Nando just misses so much. Zverev could still beat Cilic next round though. I still have Cilic though. Got him making the QF here and I’m pretty confident he will do so. But we’ll see because you never know with Marin this season. He’s played a lot better lately though. Good signs for the upcoming weeks and months for him.

  10. Hawkeye, you should get out more:

    Oliver Brown, chief sports feature writer, wimbledon
    9 JULY 2016 • 7:00PM

    Already Milos Raonic finds himself widely billed as the new Pete Sampras. This is, for all the undeniable parallels in their grasscourt games, an unhappy thought. To anybody who sat through the full stultifying horror of Sampras’ Nineties dominance, the notion that Raonic and his missile-like serve represent the future of men’s tennis is about as comforting as the prospect of another Spice Girls reunion. To bracket the young man with ‘Pistol Pete’, one of Wimbledon’s most monochrome champions, is practically to guarantee that he will be admired, but never loved.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2016/07/09/milos-raonic-undergoes-transformation-to-reach-wimbledon-2016-fi/

  11. From the same article in the Telegraph:

    “Back in his home province of Ontario, the locals are already frothing with extravagant statements of his greatness. Raonic is, in the words of the Toronto Sun, a “Canadian rock star”. Mind you, so is Bryan Adams. And the best Adams can hope to be remembered by his business is as a kind of bubblegum Springsteen.”

  12. Hawkeye, I don’t know how long you’ve been following tennis, but I remember Becker, McEnroe and Lendl in the same era. Just looked up some h2h for you to study as your homework. I’m off to bed now.

    Head To Head Matches – Chat About The Boris Becker vs John Mcenroe Head To Head
    Year Name Round Surface Winning Player Losing Player Score
    1992 Paris Masters R32 Carpet Boris Becker John McEnroe 6-4 6-4
    1992 Rotterdam SF Carpet Boris Becker John McEnroe 6-2 7-6
    1992 Australian Open R32 Hard John McEnroe Boris Becker 6-4 6-3 7-5
    1989 ATP World Tour Finals SF Carpet Boris Becker John McEnroe 6-4 6-4
    1989 Paris Masters SF Carpet Boris Becker John McEnroe 7-6 3-6 6-3
    1989 Milan SF Carpet Boris Becker John McEnroe 6-2 6-3
    1988 Indianapolis F Hard Boris Becker John McEnroe 6-4 6-2
    1986 Stratton Mountain SF Hard Boris Becker John McEnroe 3-6 7-5 7-6
    1985 Milan R32 Carpet John McEnroe Boris Becker 6-4 6-3

    • So you found ONE writer which you equate to “everyone”.

      Where’s all the Borg Vs Becker/Chang classics? Hahahahahaha.

      The rest you confirmed what I said…. old Mac and old Connors.

      Going to bed now? I think that’s where you found these alternate facts….

      #InYourDreams

        • McEnroe didn’t stop winning slams because he was challenged by the youngsters; he just fell apart, burned out, whatever. His level had already dropped massively in ’85 from where it was the year before. He lost the USO final that year to Lendl, and then managed just one slam QF in the next 3 years. At the end of that period (end of ’88) he wasn’t even 30. So in his case, at least, it wasn’t the next Gen. It was just him. Had he kept anywhere near his ’84 level (which he should have been able to do for the next 3-4 years) he would have won another 6 slams or more.

          I believe Wilander used to say that Mac was the most talented player ever. All of his slams came in the first golden age of tennis.

            • Hahahahahaha.

              Nadline’s advice she never follows.

              Nadline is up to TWO people, both media. A far cry from “everyone”. Certainly no one here or on any tennis forum. “Everyone” except nadline, the voice of “reason”.

              Speaking of opinions, still waiting for some of those “verifiable statements” of Becker or Chang having to battle Borg. You forgot to say IMO LOL.

              #NadlineFacts

    • Just a footnote: can’t really put McEnroe and Becker in the same era. Even though they overlapped several years, Mac was pretty much done as a champion by the time Becker came along. Hard to believe his last GS was in 1985, one year after he had maybe the most dominant year by a male player in the modern era. Even if he didn’t literally retire like Borg, Mac was through at 26. Massive waste of talent. Of course, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

      • I agree about McEnroe and Becker not being included in the same era. Good point. It’s interesting that McEnroe was never the same after Borg retired. In that brilliant documentary – McEnroe/Borg: Fire and Ice – McEnroe talked about his he tried to get Borg to come back to the game. He brought out the best in McEnroe. Without that rivalry, McEnroe wasn’t the same.
        ,

        • Yeah, maybe Borg had something to do with it -though his being retired didn’t stop Mac from having that incredible year in ’84. I think part of it was that McEnroe never really trained or even practiced (doubles took care of that), plus his diet was probably terrible. After reading Agassi’s book, I also strongly suspect that Mac may have been using drugs in the mid-80s. Whatever it was, he definitely through away a few prime years in his late 20s.

          • No one trained to any extent. Serious training started with Lendl who was the pioneer in that regard which revolutionized the game to what it is today and why players are now playing and in some cases peaking into their 30s.

  13. Well where slams are concerned, the youngsters weren’t/aren’t stopped by the big four, unless they’re unfortunate enough to draw them in R1 or R2. They were beaten by the other players more often then not, so it’s not the big four stopping them from winning the slams!

    Kygrios did beat Rafa at Wimbledon in 2014 in R4 but was then beaten by Raonic in the QF. He was beaten by Murray at AO one year but it was in the early round so even without Murray, I doubt Kygrios would go on to win that slam title!

    • Well yes Raonic would have a slam if it wasn’t for the Big Four and Nick had the classic letdown losing after beating Rafa and I’m so happy you have reconsidered and are reading My posts again Lucky!!!

      #BFFsAgain!!!!

    • LOL, they’ve been all spoiled by the Big Four and forget the game is more physical and players have better training methods to extend their careers.

      That, or just another case of….

      #ConfirmatoryBiasIsEverywhere

      • As for Becker and Changs teenage titles impressive as they were, they collectively beat a teenage Sampras at the French, a 23 yo Edberg on his worst surface and an old Lendl who never won a slam after that time. And a bunch of also rans.

        Those are called anomalies (as fun as they were to watch) that didn’t occur in the Gold Era.

  14. I don’t agree. Zverev, Kyrgios,Tomic etc aren’t winning slams not because the big 4 are standing in their way but because they are not in the same league as the Big 4 when they were in their teens/early twenties. I have a theory for that. These days the moment some promise is seen in a youngster, he is over hyped and sponsors rush in with millions. The immature player gets an inflated idea of himself and also with all the publicity and money, lacks the motivation for leading the almost monastic life of sacrifice and rigorous tough routines which great players follow.
    The Bog 4 are super talented and also disciplined and hardworking.
    Tomic even mentioned his net worth as the reason why he did not bother to seriously play the last shot in some match ( I think he held the racket the wrong way?)

    • Mary, Murray didn’t win a slam until he was 25. He was the one being stopped by the big three!

      I agree the youngsters are not as talented as the big four (Murray at 21 already reached a slam final), not only that, they’re not as good as the likes of Hewitt and Safin, who won a slam at their early 20s.

      These youngsters during their teenage years were stopped at the slams by non big four players, they’re not even good enough to beat a non big four top ten player. It’s only when they’re in their early to mid 20s that they’re experienced enough, skillful enough, to reach the later rounds at a slam and then were stopped by big four – Dimi and Thiem by Djoko at Wimbledon and FO respectively; Raonic by Fed and also Murray at Wimbledon; Dimi by Rafa at the AO, etc

      We will see both Kygrios and Zverev, now in their early 20s, how far they can go at the slams, now that the big four are getting on with age, and most of their fellow top ten players too.

    • Yes, Zverev seems to have a mental toughness and dedication rare for his age. Probably the most extreme case of a very talented guy who never really cared (because I believe he is literally a billionaire or will inherit billions) is Gulbis.

      • Gulbis is a prime example of an incredibly talented player who threw away a promising career through laziness, lack of discipline and work ethic and too much money. He was rich and just didn’t feel he had to make the effort. A total waste!

      • The nextgen super talent also has lots of money because of sponsorships. They are all more Gulbis like than big 4 like with the possible exception of Zverev.
        Genius is only 1% talent, rest is hardwork and these guys are therefore not genuises.

  15. So everyone agrees that today’s young players are not as talented as the Big 4. It also doesn’t help that they are being made to feel they’ve arrived by creating a NextGen group and labelling them future stars. No one knows how well they’ll do, we just have to wait and see.

  16. Yeah in this case everyone so much so as it is ridiculous to even talk about.

    There maybe collectively in the history of the open era 3-5 players that can compare to the Big Three.

    So putting anyone who has not even won a slam in the same category as these guys and Murray for that matter is a non starter and a ridiculous discussion.

    Which is why “everyone” never did to begin with. LOL.

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