We know the identity of the No. 1 men’s player in the world, and, barring some unforeseen developments over the next two weeks, who the favorite for the French Open will be. In both cases, it’s Novak Djokovic. That won’t change this week in Madrid, as Djokovic seems to have realized. He’s chosen to skip one of the year’s biggest events so he doesn’t wear himself down on the long road to Paris. It’s hard to blame him. Djokovic knows what his ultimate goal is: A first French Open title. He missed Madrid last year with an injury, so he has no points to defend. And there’s still time for him to prepare next week in Rome, where he is defending points—1,000 of them.
That means Madrid will essentially be a race for second place (see the draw here). Which takes nothing away from its importance; whoever comes away with the title, or a significant gain in confidence, will be in a propitious position going forward.