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Mutua Madrid Open 2017 live from Madrid: Opportunity beckons in wide open Madrid field

Live Tennis Staff in News 2 May 2017
  • The 2017 Mutua Madrid Open is live from Madrid's Caja Magica from 5-14 May
  • Serena Williams will miss the tournament because of pregnancy
  • Defending champion, Simona Halep faces stern competition as she attempts to retain her title
Reigning Madrid Open champion, Simona Halep. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

With Serena Williams absent due to her pregnancy, opportunity beckons on the rest of the field as the third Premier Mandatory event of the season holds in Madrid from May 5-14, 2017. 

The best players in women's tennis will gather in Madrid to do battle at the iconic Caja Magica for the Mutua Madrid Open title from 5-14 May 2017 as the only Premier Mandatory Tournament of the clay-court season takes place. 

The first of the three major events of the clay-court season, the Mutua Madrid Open is a key battleground in the run-up to the second Grand Slam of the year and offers 1,000 ranking points to the champion as well as prize money and prestige.

As the biggest clay court gathering on the WTA Tour outside Roland Garros, the Madrid Open commands plenty of significance. The Premier Mandatory Tournament naturally attracts the biggest names in women’s tennis, and 2017 will not be an exception.

However, two-time champion, Serena Williams misses out because of pregnancy.

Apart from Williams, the only other two-time Madrid champion is Petra Kvitova, who reigned in the Spanish capital in 2011 and 2015. Sadly, the Czech left-hander is also not in the 2017 field, as she continues to recover from hand surgery, following injuries sustained in a burglar attack in her home in December.

However, 2014 winner, Maria Sharapova continues her comeback to the tour after missing last year's edition because of a doping suspension. Sharapova made an impressive return in Stuttgart at the end of April, where she bulldozed her way to the semi-final before being edged out by Kristina Mladenovic. Not even 15 months of inactivity could take away Sharapova's punishing return of serve, while she has obviously worked harder on her own deliveries. Sharapova, who was without a ranking before Stuttgart because of her doping ban, jumped to 262 in the world after her exploits in Germany. On the evidence of her Stuttgart form, the Russian looks set to be a factor all through the summer. It is still unclear whether the Russian will be offered a wildcard into the French Open (the tournament organisations will make an announcement in the middle of May), and should that eventuality happen, her time in Madrid will be crucial in sharpening her skills ahead of a possible return to Grand Slam tennis. Sharapova has done well in Madrid in the past, winning the title in 2014, a year after she lost to Serena Williams in the final.

Defending champion, Simona Halep has a useful record in Madrid. Her 2016 title-run was her second trip to the final, having lost the title match to Maria Sharapova in 2014- the year she got to the French Open final. Halep was held back by a knee problem at the start of the year, but she has picked up pace in recent weeks, reaching the quarter finals in Miami and the semi-finals in Stuttgart. In between, she also scored a couple of pressure Fed Cup wins for Romania in a testing tie against Great Britain in her home town of Constanta.

When Serena Williams pulled out of last year’s event, Agnieszka Radwanska assumed the mantle of the top seed, but the Pole isn’t the most comfortable on clay, as she showed in a loss to Dominika Cibulkova in an admittedly tough opening round draw for a number one seed. Besides, it has been a really disappointing year for Radwanska, who has not won back-to-back WTA matches since reaching the final of the Apia International in Sydney in the second week in January. That poor run of form is threatening to pull her out of the top 10.

Angelique Kerber is in no such danger. The German has been wrestling the number one ranking with Serena Williams all through 2017, but with the American out of action for the rest of the season, Kerber has a real opportunity to lock down that number one sport. From here till the end of the French Open, Kerber has zero points to defend having fallen in the opening rounds in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros last year. She would however have to be better than she was in Stuttgart, where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic in an admittedly difficult opening round. Prior to that Stuttgart loss, the world number one has been better in recent weeks, reaching her first final of the season in Monterrey, after a quarter final loss to Venus Williams in Miami.

It is true that Roland Garros remains the only major where Kerber has not made the semi-finals, but that doesn't necessarily mean she struggles on clay. She does possess a couple of titles in Stuttgart and Charleston, and she will look to make a push in the next few weeks.

Former French Open champion, Garbine Muguruza cannot be overlooked, along with fellow top-ten player and former French Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, while it will be very interesting to follow the progress of Karolina Plisova on clay, as she has been excellent on hard courts over the past year.

Pliskova has never really been convincing on clay, and a 1-2 record to start her clay season doesn't bode well moving forward. Still, there is plenty of time to improve. Pliskova lost to Laura Siegemund in the Stuttgart quarter finals, before falling to Camila Giorgi in the opening round of her home event in Prague.

There are a host of names outside the top ten that can do serious damage in Madrid- Stuttgart champion, Laura Siegemund is carving quite a reputation on clay, while Stuttgart runner-up, Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina have compiled very solid campaigns, and will have designs on exploiting an open Madrid field.

The teenage Daria Kasatkina showed her clay court prowess with her run to the title in Charleston, and she will lead other youngsters looking to make their mark in the Spanish capital. Last year threw up the Cinderella run of young American, Louisa Chirico, who stunned the tour with her quite remarkable trip to the semi-finals. It will be interesting to see if Chirico, or any other of the WTA young guns could make a similar splash when the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open holds from May 5-14.

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Mutua Madrid Open 2017 live from Madrid: Opportunity beckons in wide open Madrid field

Defending Mutua Madrid Open champion Simona Halep faces stern competition to retain her Madrid Open title. Who will make the most of a wide open Madrid field? Read our preview and stream the tournament live online.

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