Madrid: Tennis star Rafael Nadal will again be the favourite when the big names begin their matches in the Madrid Open here Monday.
The Spaniard is the top seed despite a recent slump in form which has seen him lose to fellow Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, respectively. But he can count on unconditional support from the stands at the Caja Magica where he has already been champion on three occasions, reports Xinhua.
"Spain is my country and every time I play in any tournament here it is something special. The crowd always make a big difference here," said Nadal Sunday.
Nadal could be knocked off the top in world rankings if he fails to reach the last eight and Novak Djokovic is crowned champion. But the Serb is still doubtful with a wrist injury and won't make a decision until late Sunday.
Meanwhile Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, who won in Monte Carlo, could also pose a threat with the ever elegant Federer continuing to defy the passing years while Ferrer will also count on strong home support.
Serena Williams is No.1 seed in women's singles and comes to Madrid to defend the title she has won with ease over the past two years. She is back in competition after taking a month off, citing fatigue after a defeat at Charleston.
"I had just been playing for such a long time non-stop. It was actually really good for me to get that off. I feel really good and very positive."
Agnieszka Radwanska is third seed while Maria Sharapova looks to build up her form after recently defeating Ana Ivanovic in Stuttgart.