The Picks in Madrid: Thursday, April 26

Dominic Thiem over Kyle Edmund
The Brit Edmund was pretty hurt last year and he barely played in 2023. Now he is trying to rise up in the ranking, and he must be thinking that if he can play all the time, then he will be much more solid. However, five years ago, Edmund beat a number of very good players, and then he moved into the No. 14, winning Belgium, indoors on the hardcourt, beating Gael Monfils. Believe it or not, at the 2018 in Madrid, he actually beat three darn good players, like Daniil Medvedev, Novak Djokovic and David Goffin, before he lost against Denis Shapovalov. Then it looked like that he had a good chance to go even deeper. But he did not really, so while he was very solid, he wasn’t good enough to stay in the top 20. 

Oh, well, but right now, he has to face against the former No. 2 Thiem, who is a tough customer. Yes, he was really struggling, but over the past three tournaments, he finally looks like he is healthy. He is not as fast as he once was, but he really like to dig into the clay. Thiem will win it, in three sets, as his one-handed backhand nailed the ball.

Aryna Sabalenka over Sorana Cirstea 
The fast and the very mature person on the court reached in the semis in Miami, and believe it or not, Cirstea beat Sabalenka. Even though on the hardcourts, the Belarus  would hit her shots, harder, and eventually, she would put together a number of winners, very deep. However, Cirstea has changed her outlook, moving early, and when she could see during the rallies, then she would decide to try to slam the ball, or just being consistent. In Florida, she did both.  

But now they are in the clay, not on the hardcourts, so while in Madrid it can be somewhat faster, but they will have to be some call-ups. Sabalenka  did reach the final in Stuttgart last week, and she was so intense, but she could not out-hit with Iga Swiatek, as the Polish person new exactly what to do. Sabalenka might be some sad, but her coach likely said just “forget about it and move on.” She might not, but this time Sabalenka will revenge in her match against Cirstea, and this time, she will win in three long sets.

Elina Svitolina over Aliaksandra Sasnovich
The Ukrainian Svitolina just came back last month, as she had a child in 2022, and then she decided that it is time to play on the WTA Tour. She has had some excellent matches, going into the semis at Wimbledon and the US Open, and winning 16 titles, including in Rome, Toronto and the WTA Finals. That is tremendous, but in realty, on court, she would be at times, pretty nervous and frustrated. But she is learning now as she gets older, and while it could take her another year or so, she will be much more mature and level headed. 

Sasnovich seems to be sliding. She did have some matches in 2022, but she also lost a lot of matches. She certainly has been there for a while, trying different shots, but she still isn’t powerful enough. Because of that, Svitolina will win in three, interesting, sets.