Madrid Open: Four women to watch in Iga Swiatek’s absence
Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from the Madrid Open as she manages her fitness in a bid to win a second French Open title, opening the door for another woman to get a slice of the WTA 1000 pie.
Here are four women who could take advantage of Swiatek’s absence to win or at least go deep in Madrid.
Ninth seed Emma Raducanu had been drawn in the same quarter as Swiatek, which has been terminal for every other women at WTA 1000 events this year.
Raducanu has shown herself to be better on clay than many expected her to be and she did well in Stuttgart before her tournament was ended by the World No 1.
With the top seed gone and replaced by Leylah Fernandez in draw position, Raducanu finds herself surrounded by fellow young guns in the top quarter.
Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari lurk in her half of the draw, but the Madrid Open might be where Raducanu makes her first WTA 1000 final.
Naomi Osaka has never won a WTA tour event on a surface that isn’t a hard court but it is easy to forget she is just 24.
Osaka will have to battle past seasoned clay-court specialists but the draw has been reasonably kind to the former world no 1.
She will face a qualifier in the opening round and has managed to miss most drawing in-from players in the early rounds.
The newly-minted World No 2 comes into the Madrid Open on a roll and will be among the favourites for the women’s singles trophy.
Badosa reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart with an impressive run that was eventually ended by another in-form player in Aryna Sabalenka.
Badosa faces another potential semi-final meeting with Sabalenka but shouldn’t lack for motivation as she chases a secomd title for the year.
The Spaniard has gone deep consistently this season but hasn’t won a title since Sydney back in Janaury.
A beaten finalist in Stuttgart last week, Sabalenka might have relished the potential rematch with Iga Swiatek but in her absence she become perhaps the hot tip to win it.
Sabalenka has looked good when winning but her fiercest critics label her a flat-track bully.
She doesn’t have a tour-level title win this season but she does have all the tools to do well on the faster clay of Madrid.
Her best runs of 2022 have been ended by Swiatek and with the World No 1 absent it might just be time for her to step up and join the winner’s circle.
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