Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz won their Madrid Open quarterfinals on Friday. Rafael Nadal lost his quarterfinal. Yet, all three men got what they wanted.
We need to be very clear at the outset of this article: Friday’s results don’t offer a strong indication of how Roland Garros is likely to unfold. Madrid’s conditions are not reflective of how the ball will bounce and move through the court in Paris. Rome is a much better gauge of how the French fortnight will develop.
What matters to Djokovic, Alcaraz and Nadal: getting adequate preparation before Paris. They all got that on Friday.
Djokovic and Alcaraz, by winning on Friday, earned more match play and the chance to test their games against each other. They can really use this upcoming live-action tune-up before Roland Garros. Getting a high-quality encounter will unearth lots of information and context. This will enable Djokovic and Alcaraz to solve more problems and anticipate tactical adjustments to a fuller extent. Their coaches will be able to modify game plans and add more points of emphasis.
Nadal, who essentially torched his tournament title chances by needing more than three hours to beat David Goffin, did not need to play Djokovic with a low fuel tank. His body is constantly in pain, fighting its limitations. Nadal was not in good shape to play Djokovic in a 59th meeting on Saturday. It’s better for him to get the weekend off, go to Rome with ample preparation time, and gear up for a clay event which more accurately reflects what Roland Garros will feel like.
Nadal would have labored through a Djokovic semifinal. It is best to play his great rival when the body is fresher and more likely to produce a complete, all-out effort. Rafa was not in position to do that had he beaten Alcaraz.
Djokovic is playing his way back into form and is getting the match-play situations he needs.
Alcaraz gets to play Nadal and Djokovic in consecutive matches, which is perfet preparation for Paris.
Nadal gets some rest and a smaller overall workload before Roland Garros.
Everyone will walk away from Friday’s quarterfinals as a winner in Madrid.