Madrid | Swiatek pulls out of draw

World No 1 Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from the Mutua Madrid Open due to a shoulder injury, and Leylah Fernandez moves into the Pole’s position as the No 17th seed, and a lucky loser will take the Canadian’s place.

I wanted to play it really badly, honestly, but sometimes you just have to make the smartest decision possible. My heart was, like, 'Hey, Iga, this is Madrid’. I only had one chance to play here, and I feel like I could do better. So I wanted to improve the result that I had last year. But I'm pretty happy that my team sometimes is also taking a lot of responsibility. Iga Świątek

“Basically, it’s not like we have some drama, because everything is okay,” Swiatek told reporters at Media Day for the WTA 1000 event held in Madrid on Wednesday. “You can see in Stuttgart that basically I’m doing fine.

“We just thought that this is the best decision for me to recover properly because I didn’t really have time to recover after all these tournaments.

“After each of them I had, like, two days to chill out and then I had to come back to work and adjust to so many different things in every place.

“So, basically, right now I feel like this is the best decision for us to get ready for Rome, and have the peak of my form in Roland Garros.”

Swiatek’s winning 23-match winning streak has taken the 20-year-old across 4 tournaments, 3 continents and 2 surfaces so far and, having won her 4th consecutive title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Sunday, she will now have some time to recover ahead of Rome and Paris.

The win on indoor clay came after becoming the first player to win the first 3 WTA 1000 events of the season at the Qatar Total Open, BNP Paribas Open, and Miami Open.


Leylah Annie Fernandez has moved into the space vacated by Iga Swiatek at the top of the draw as the WTA 1000's 17th seed

© Elsa/Getty Images

Set to play as the top seed in Madrid, Swiatek was due to open her tournament on Friday against a qualifier.

“I wanted to play it really badly, honestly,” Swiatek added. “But sometimes you just have to make the smartest decision possible.

“My heart was, like, ‘Hey, Iga, this is Madrid’. I only had one chance to play here, and I feel like I could do better. So I wanted to improve the result that I had last year.

“But I’m pretty happy that my team sometimes is also taking a lot of responsibility.

“I trust in them, and I know that they’re going to make the right decisions because I’ve never had a situation, in terms of planning and in terms of looking more to the future, and not what’s going on right now, I’ve never had a situation when their decision was wrong.

“So, basically, I trust them completely, and I feel like just a couple of days off, and then having time to actually practice a little bit more, and focus on the technical stuff, is going to do me only good.”


Paula Badosa takes up the mantle of favourite to win the Madrid title but faces a tough draw

© Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

After Swiatek’s withdrawal, No 2 seed Paula Badosa becomes the favourite for the title but she faces a tough potential 2nd-round clash with Romania’s Simona Halep.

Elsewhere, defending champion and No 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka opens against American nemesis Amanda Anisimova, while reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu from Britain has landed in a section that also contains 2002-born peers Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Denmark’s Clara Tauson.

Fernandez now opens against a qualifier at the top of the draw, but could face Kvitova, the champion here in 2011, 2015 and 2018, who faces the tricky Swiss Jil Teichmann first.

Whoever passes that test is projected to meet 16th seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakstan in the 3rd round, and Spain’s 7th-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza in the quarter-finals.

Muguruza has yet to pass the 3rd round of her home WTA 1000 event in 7 previous appearances, and at that stage this year could face 1 of 3 talented teenagers in 9th seed Raducanu, who opens against Czech Tereza Martincova, and the winner will face either Tauson or Kostyuk.


Naomi Osaka is hoping to revive her form on the Madrid clay as a wild-card entry into the draw

© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In the 2nd quarter, No 4 seed Maria Sakkari from Greece, a semi-finalist here in 2021, faces a tough path as she seeks to get her season back on track, opening against Australian Open semi-finalist Madison Keys from the US, with former World No 10 Daria Kasatkina awaiting in round two.

Wild-card Naomi Osaka, who has declared her intention to take this year’s clay court swing more seriously than ever, could be a 3rd-round opponent for Sakkari.

The Japanese starts against a qualifier, then will need to get past either 13th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, playing her first tournament after being sidelined by a knee injury for two months, or the indefatigable Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain.

American Danielle Collins, the 6th seed, is Sakkari’s projected quarter-final opponent, and faces a draw of comeback players, starting with wild-card Monica Puig, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist who has undergone 3 surgeries on her elbow and shoulder since 2019 and is playing her first tournament since Roland Garros 2020, and last won a match at Luxembourg 2019.

The winner will face either former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu from Canada, who made her return from a 6-month hiatus last week in Stuttgart, or another American, Alison Riske, in the second round.


Aryna Sabalenka is the defending champion in Madrid, having beaten Ash Barty in the final her last year

© Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

The 3rd quarter sees Sabalenka, who defeated Ash Barty here in the final last year, is bidding for first win against Anisimova but has not won a tournament since, and although a run to last week’s Stuttgart final seemed to get her season on track following a scratchy start, the draw has handed her few favours.

Should Sabalenka get past Anisimova, who has won all 3 of their previous encounters, a second-round encounter with Liudmila Samsonova, a semi-finalist in Stuttgart, where she became the only player to take a set from Swiatek since mid-March, awaits.

Compatriot and No 15 seed Victoria Azarenka, twice a runner-up in Madrid in 2011 and 2012, is projected to face Sabalenka in the 3rd round, while 2 seeds returning from injury layoffs will bid to meet her in the quarter-finals in 5th-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who has compiled a 2-4 record since coming back from the wrist fracture she sustained in the off-season, or No 10 seed Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia, who delivered a stellar February campaign but has been sidelined by a wrist injury for the past month.

In the last quarter, Badosa, who as a No 62-ranked wild-card made it to the semi-finals in front of her home crowd last year, is now the new World No 2 after reaching the Stuttgart semi-finals, and will open against Veronika Kudermetova, the finalist last week in Istanbul.

In the 2nd round, Badosa could face 2016 and 2017 champion Halep for the first time.

The Romanian former World No 1, who endured an injury-struck 2021 and whose ranking has dropped to 21, will be making her debut with new coach Patrick Mouratoglou after being sidelined since Indian Wells due to a leg injury, and opens against Zhang Shuai from China.

No 14 seed Coco Gauff is the projected 3rd-round opponent for Badosa, and 8th-seeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur is slated to await in the quarters.

Jabeur first needs to take some revenge on No 10 seed Belinda Bencic from Switzerland in the 3rd round in a rematch of the Charleston final a month ago.

The Swiss, though, first faces a tricky 2nd round against either big-hitting teenage wild-card Zheng Qinwen from China or the dangerous but perennially injured Czech Karolina Muchova.

Main-draw play at the Caja Mágica in Madrid begins on Thursday with 2-time major champion Muguruza facing Ajla Tomljanovic and Sakkari against Madison Keys, among a number of marquee first-round matches.


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