Félix "The Cat" Auger-Aliassime, the most exciting teenager on the Tour with his fellow Canadian, Bianca Andreescu, will probably never have a better chance of beating the highest tenant for this or any generation when playing Rafael Nadal here at Wednesday.
The Spaniard rarely comes to the Madrid Open without a European clay title for his name. The last time was 2015, when he had lost to Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semi-finals, Fabio Fognini in round three in Barcelona and then went down to two sets for Andy Murray in the final of his capital.
This year, Fognini beat him in the semi-finals of Monte Carlo, and Dominic Thiem stopped him at the same stage in Barcelona. As for Madrid, it may be a virus that does for him, even though he suggested there are other demons in play. "I would like to have cited titles in my bag," he admitted on Tuesday, "but there is no more pressure [than usual] on my shoulders. What has happened in the past is the past, and it does not guarantee What will happen in the future. I know everything that has happened to me over the last 18 months that I will not explain now. Some things you know, others you do not. "
The known disease is the stomach acid that forced him to his bed on Sunday, and he is not sure it has left him. "I'm not going to lie to you, I still have a not super positive attitude to my health. Yesterday I trained a little, and today I have trained a little more."
As for Auger-Aliassime, the five-man Madrid champion said, "He's young. He's played a few games on clay this year, so he's going to be a tough opponent. I have to be fit. Hopefully, my physical side be there. "
However, Djokovic seems to have led off-court distractions behind him after an unusually bad run since the Australian open and found a devastating rhythm against the young American, Taylor Fritz, who detained World No. 1 only 65 minutes on Tuesday.
By beating the net and baseline behind a clinical service, Djokovic had hardly moved out of second gear against an outclassed opponent and finished with an imperial forehand down to win 6-4, 6-2.
Fognini wants to go with a pirate swagger as long as he lives, but there is fresh conviction in his shoulders-back ambling since he won in Monte Carlo, and it was Kyle Edmund's turn to come up against the Italian on one of his smiling sun – blessed days.
World No. 12 knocked out Barcelona and Estoril to rest a real hamstring injury, but ended his seventh win on spin, 6-4, 6-3 in the hour and a half and pushed on to the second round in the same half of the draw as Djokovic.
Edmund did not serve well, but was at least satisfied with his "physical intensity" heading to Rome. "I struggled well to try to get into the fight," he said, "and I created opportunities: in the first set I had 0-40 at 3-2 and then there were two games where I had a break came back in. the other, you just have to go on, or you'll keep losing if you're sorry for yourself. "
There was also no joy for Johanna Konta, nor after a nice run during the last week. She arrived at the last minute from Rabat, where she made the final, beat Alison Riske in two sets after very little sleep, and then spread early dominance against world # 3, Simona Halep, who ended up as a train to win 7-5 6-1 for 88 minutes.
"I ran out of a bit of steam in the second set, and she just kept building on her level," Konta said.
As always, Konta found a reason to be cheerful. "In the last few years, I have not had such great success on clay as the other surfaces, but there is no reason why I can't play on clay either. I enjoy the fact I definitely feel I am moving better on canvas. "
In the adventure that is not down, David Ferrer – who goes after this tournament – has held his career in at least one fight by beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 – and next faces Alexander Zverev, who He hit Miami.
Richard Gasquet celebrated Roger Federer the first time they played at Monte Carlo's laugh, but the bounce back in the 14 years ago has been relentless. The 37-year-old Swiss imposed his 18th win over the 32-year-old Frenchman in their 20 meetings, 6-2, 6-3 in just 52 minutes. Gasquet did well to restore some of his lungs after a first generation. Federer, who returns mainly to clay for almost three years, plays either Gaël Monfils or Marton Fucsovics, who disturbs David Goffin 6-4, 7-5.