Madrid tournament owner Ion Tiriac has never been short on ideas. Some, like creating a dual-gender clay-court event in Spain’s capital, are far-seeing. Others, like playing that tournament on sky-blue dirt, may someday be recognized as ahead of their time. Still others, like using florescent balls, are flat-out hare-brained—or in his case, beard-brained.
One of the Vampiric One’s other favorite concepts is the small draw. Tiriac has always said that 32 players are the ideal number for a pro tournament, if it wants to deliver competitive matches from start to finish. In Madrid, though, he must be torn. Tiriac would like his event to be the fifth Grand Slam, and he’s pushed to make it longer.
For the moment, we’ve reached an appealing mid-point at the Caja Magica. The tournament has a 64-player draw, with no byes, on the women’s side, and a 64-player draw, with eight byes, on the men’s. If you’re going to extend your event to nine days—women’s main-draw matches begin on Saturday—you should give the customers something decent to watch all the way through. Madrid does pretty well right now, but it would do better if it dropped the eight byes on the men's side and made everyone play the same number of matches.
This morning I broke down the women’s draw; here’s a look at the men’s.