The Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz will begin his career this Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open, the fourth Masters 1,000 of the season, with the aim of defending the title achieved in 2022, which would also allow him to have the option of becoming number one in the world at Roland Garros, second ‘Grand Slam’ of the season.

The Murcian is undoubtedly the great attraction of the clay court tournament hosted by the Caja Mágica, not only because of his quality, his state of form and his ability to put on a show, but also because of the carousel of casualties that have affected the men’s draw.

Neither the Serbian Novak Djokovic, current number one in the world, nor the Spanish Rafa Nadal, who won four of his five titles in Madrid on red clay, will not be in the capital due to injury. Alcaraz beat them both on the way to the trophy last year when he had to get off the Balearic player in the quarterfinals and the Belgrade player in the semifinals, before beating German Alexander Zverev with authority in the final, a player who is still not at his best level after his serious injury at the last Roland Garros.

The loss of ‘Nole’ opens the door for El Palmar, who hopes during the tournament to celebrate his twentieth birthday (May 5), to recover number one. Defending the title would put it on a plate because he would stay five points behind the Balkan and would only have to play in the Masters 1,000 in Rome, where he does not defend any points, to reach Paris at the top.

Alcaraz arrives in good shape at this Mutua Madrid Open, where he will be the first seed and where he will try to be the second, after Rafa Nadal (2013-2014), to reissue the title. Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil defended the crown in Barcelona to add his third title of the season, second on this surface after the one achieved in Buenos Aires in February. Now, on the other hand, he will have to adapt to different conditions due to the altitude of the capital in his fight to reach ten trophies with his fourth Masters 1,000.

The champion of the United States Open will begin, not before 4:00 p.m., his journey on the Manolo Santana Court against the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 41 in the world and a dangerous first rival, against whom he already lost in 2021 in the Masters 1,000 Miami (United States), a tournament in which a few weeks ago he was a quarterfinalist.

If he overcomes this premiere, the road will harden with a possible reissue of the final in the round of 16 against Zverev. The Russian Andrey Rublev, winner this year in Monte Carlo, would be the theoretical rival in the quarterfinals, while for the semifinals the best placed are the Norwegian Casper Ruud and the Danish Holger Rune, another of the young pushers of the moment, finalist in the Principality and champion last week in Munich (Germany).

On the other side of the table, the figure of the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas stands out, a finalist in 2019 and who has just lost the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell against Alcaraz. There is also the Russian Daniil Medvedev, second favourite, but his performance on clay is not usually the best and that can open the door to other more accustomed players such as the British Cameron Norrie, executioner this year on clay in the Rio de Janeiro final of the Murcian.