The King and his heir apparent on clay will not be contesting the Madrid final. Instead, it will be Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas who will be headed into the Caja Magica tomorrow with their eyes on claiming the second clay Masters title of the season at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Tsitsipas is looking to claim titles in back-to-back weeks after winning the Millenium Estoril Open last Sunday while Djokovic is looking for his first title since his Australian Open triumph back in January.
The pair have only met once in Canada last year at the Rogers Cup. The Greek took the opening set before Djokovic claimed the second set tiebreak, only for Tsitsipas to stun the 31-year-old and book a spot in the last eight in Canada.
Djokovic's Road To The Final
The 31-year-old opened up his campaign against qualifier Taylor Fritz. The duo had met earlier this year already in Monte Carlo, and just like that match, it went the way of the Serb. Frenchman Jeremy Chardy provided a little more of a challenge by forcing Djokovic into a tiebreaker, but it was still smooth sailing for the top seed.
Marin Cilic was forced to withdraw from their quarterfinal match due to food poisoning, meaning Djokovic would be fully rested against Dominic Thiem who went the distance against Roger Federer. That rest proved vital with the top seed booking his spot in the final after claiming two tiebreak sets.
Tsitsipas' Road To The Final
As a top-eight seed, Tsitsipas received a bye into the second round and took out Adrian Mannarino in straight sets. Next up was a home favorite in Fernando Verdasco, the Spaniard posed no problems for the 20-year-old as he set up a showdown against fellow young star Alexander Zverev.
The two met at the Rogers Cup last summer with the Greek taking the match, and there was no love lost between the two. Tsitsipas once again came out on top to set up a semifinal match against Rafael Nadal. Nadal has had the edge in their head-to-head, but Tsitsipas came out swinging and took the opening set. The King of Clay claimed set two only for the Greek number one to respond by booking his spot in the final.
You would have to think that the late semifinal between Nadal and Tsitsipas will be playing a role tomorrow. The eight seed will have less than 24 hours of rest after a grueling duel and will head into another one against Djokovic.
Tsitsipas is going to have to use his serve and forehand to try and keep points short, but that's a tough ask on the terre battue. Djokovic, the better mover of the two, will use his experience to keep the Greek number one on his toes and should edge this one out in the end.
Prediction: Djokovic in three sets