Preparation for the French Open gets going in earnest as May begins. The ATP and WTA are set to play the two biggest clay tournaments ahead of Paris, beginning this weekend at the Madrid Open. Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka are back on tour after extended breaks, and a number of important rankings scenarios are in play for both the men and women.
Here are key questions for Madrid:
1. Can No. 5 Rafael Nadal make a run at No. 4 David Ferrer? Nadal lost in the third round to Fernando Verdasco in Madrid last year. That means he can pick up 910 points if he wins Madrid, his toughest of all the clay events. Since the tournament moved from indoor hard courts to clay in 2009, Nadal has won it once (2010) and lost in the final to Federer (2009) and Novak Djokovic (2011). This is Nadal’s opportunity to close the gap significantly on the No. 4 ranking, which he trails by 935 points. A Nadal win combined with an early loss by Ferrer, and he could take No. 4 outright heading into Rome.