Friday, 26 April 2024 at 07:57
Thursday may have had Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek, but it was a bit of an hors d'oeuvre for what is to come on Friday with a mouth watering schedule confirmed at the Madrid Open featuring the two defending champions and two of the forerunners in WTA Tennis right now in action too.
Our preview looks ahead to the main talking points and matches to watch ahead of Friday with the schedule also confirmed to follow the leading matches from your timezone.

Alcaraz and Sabalenka begin Madrid quests albeit with question marks

Albeit both were under the storm of Cakegate last year, but the Madrid Open being both during their birthdays and one that endured a winning feeling last year, it is a special fortnight for Aryna Sabalenka and Carlos Alcaraz.
Both begin their title defences on Friday. Albeit at a bit of a crossroads compared to parts of the 2024 season thus far. Alcaraz won Indian Wells, his first title since Wimbledon last year and after the Sunshine Double looked well poised. But disaster struck when he was spotted with a sleeve on his right forearm and he postponed practice and withdrew from Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.
While he says he feels fine and that it was more of a protective measure, Alcaraz will have to show that those doubting him don't have anything to fear ahead of the Roland Garros run-in. With Djokovic not at his best, Sinner being the forerunner, Alcaraz will aim to prove that he is very much still in business. He opens up against Alexander Shevchenko who has barely won a game since changing to Kazakhstan. His wife, Anastasia Potapova lost to Leylah Fernandez on Thursday, but will he be following her out. That is third up on Manolo Santana.
Is Carlos Alcaraz ready for Madrid title tilt?
Aryna Sabalenka is prior to him. She too has question marks but also for different reasons. After the passing of Konstantin Koltsov, her ex-boyfriend at the Miami Open, she has only played in Stuttgart and lost to an inspired Marketa Vondrousova. So it could be said that compared to last year, she isn't in the same form. It is also misleading as she could realistically spring a run this week to alleviate fears. She faces Magda Linette though who lost to Sloane Stephens in the final of Rouen. A real trip hazard for Sabalenka if she doesn't play it right.

Rybakina, Zverev and Collins also among leading lights

Elena Rybakina was used to being thrust into the graveyard shift of the Night Sessions during the clay court season last year and in most tournaments, this in turn saw her complain a lot. She has seen that rectified albeit she will play early morning instead. She takes on Lucia Bronzetti just before midday off the back of winning Stuttgart.
Alexander Zverev is in the Night Session and he will face Borna Coric. The German ace is joined by the unbeaten queen in Danielle Collins. The American won both Miami and Charleston back-to-back so already has a title on clay this season in the latter. She has not lost since the 8th March against Iga Swiatek in Indian Wells and has taken a well deserved rest after winning two tournaments in a row. Will the dominance of 'DanYELL' resume on return as she heads towards retirement. Olga Danilovic lies in wait.
What about other courts? Well among the top ties include Munich final duo Taylor Fritz and Jan-Lennard Struff facing Luciano Darderi and Jaume Munar, Hubert Hurkacz takes on Jack Draper, while Mirra Andreeva on Court Eight is in a dark horse clash. She faces Linda Noskova for a spot in the third round.

Schedule Friday 26 April Madrid Open

Manolo Santana Stadium
Starts at 11:00am
Lucia Bronzetti v Elena Rybakina (WTA)
Magda Linette v Aryna Sabalenka (WTA)
Alexander Shevchenko v Carlos Alcaraz (ATP)
Not before 20:00 - Alexander Zverev v Borna Coric (ATP)
Danielle Collins v Olga Danilovic (WTA)
Arantxa Sanchez Stadium
Starts at 11:00am
Andrey Rublev v Facundo Bagnis (ATP)
Juncheng Shang v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP)
Qinwen Zheng v Yulia Putintseva (WTA)
Marketa Vondrousova v Shelby Rogers (WTA)
Mariano Navone v Holger Rune (ATP)
Court 3
Starts at 11:00am
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Daria Saville (WTA)
Cristina Bucsa v Daria Kasatkina (WTA)
Hubert Hurkacz v Jack Draper (ATP)
Luciano Darderi v Taylor Fritz (ATP)
Jaume Munar v Jan-Lennard Struff (ATP)
Court 4
Tommy Paul v Lukas Klein (ATP)
Tomas Martin Etcheverry v Denis Shapovalov (ATP)
Jaqueline Cristian v Barbora Krejcikova (ATP)
Katie Boulter v Robin Montgomery (WTA)
Tallon Griekspoor v Taro Daniel (ATP)
Court 5
Caroline Garcia v Xinyu Wang (WTA)
Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva v Jasmine Paolini (WTA)
Court 6
Fabian Marozsan v Francisco Cerundolo (ATP)
Daniel Altmaier v Arthur Fils (ATP)
Sebastian Baez v Luca van Assche (ATP)
Ugo Humbert v Botic van de Zandschulp (ATP)
Court 7
Lorenzo Musetti v Thiago Seyboth Wild (ATP)
Ekaterina Alexandrova v Ashlyn Krueger (WTA)
Marta Kostyuk v Mayar Sherif (WTA)
Court 8
Mirra Andreeva v Linda Noskova
Caroline Dolehide v Anhelina Kalinina
Sara Bejlek v Anna Kalinskaya

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