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Madrid Open Women's draw - Who will Emma Raducanu face in first round?

Following the draw for the Madrid Open women's singles, Sports Mole picks out some of the standout ties for the first round of the Masters tournament.

The fifth Masters tournament for WTA players is upon us, as the world's finest gather in the Spanish capital for the next two weeks to meet in the latest edition of the Madrid Open.

As preparations for the 2024 French Open ramp up on the clay courts, unseeded players, wild cards and those entering with protected rankings discovered their first-round fates in Sunday's draw, while some of the tournament's more revered names - including holder Aryna Sabalenka - learned their possible routes to the latter stages.

Here, Sports Mole runs through some of the standout ties from this year's Madrid Open Women's draw, which precedes the men's draw taking place on Monday.


Emma Raducanu kept waiting as former world number one withdraws

Emma Raducanu reacts at the Australian Open on January 16, 2024© Reuters

On the back of a positive run at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she reached the quarter-finals and held her own in a quarter-final loss to world number one Iga Swiatek, Emma Raducanu now prepares to compete at Madrid for just the second time.

The Briton reached the third round on her tournament debut in 2022, losing to Anhelina Kalinina in three sets, and she was due to begin her next clay conquest against the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova, whom she has never met at the top level before.

The 32-year-old is a former world number one and two-time Grand Slam finalist, losing the 2021 Wimbledon showpiece to Ashleigh Barty, while she made the semi-finals of the Madrid Open in 2018.

Pliskova has failed to make it past the second round in each of her other eight Madrid appearances, but she already has one WTA title to her name in 2024, beating Ana Bogdan in the final of February's Transylvania Open.

However, Pliskova has now pulled out of the tournament through injury, meaning Raducanu will take on either a qualifier or lucky loser. The victor can look forward to a second-round match with 17th seed Veronika Kudermetova.


Katie Boulter on Aryna Sabalenka collision course

Katie Boulter reacts at the San Diego Open on March 3, 2024© Reuters

Raducanu is one of just two British women guaranteed to compete in the main draw - Harriet Dart must traverse the qualifying competition - and Katie Boulter's status as 26th seed means that she bypasses the first round.

The British number one has reached a career-high ranking this year on account of winning her first WTA 500 title at the San Diego Open, since when she has also made the last 16 of the Miami Open and helped Great Britain reach the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Boulter's second-round showdown with see her battle either American 19-year-old wildcard Robin Montgomery or Russia's Elina Avanesyan - who has an all-time career high of world number 60 - but she could hardly face a more challenging test should she make it through to the last 16.

Indeed, Boulter's third-round opponent could be second seed and reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated Swiatek last year for her second Madrid title, having also triumphed on the Spanish clay in 2021.


Naomi Osaka to clash with qualifier

Naomi Osaka reacts at the Australian Open on January 15, 2024© Reuters

Continuing her comeback trail, former Australian Open and US Open champion Naomi Osaka enters the Madrid Open using a protected ranking and still on the hunt for her first top-level title in over three years.

The 26-year-old - whose last WTA Tour final was the Miami Open showpiece in April 2022 - already has several Masters triumphs under her belt this year, reaching the last eight of the Qatar Open and getting as far as round three at Indian Wells and Miami.

Osaka's Open de Rouen campaign last week ended prematurely with a first-round exit to Martina Trevisan, and the Japanese will have to wait a little while longer before she discovers her first-round fate.

Indeed, Osaka will take on one of 12 players to advance from the qualifying tournament, which precedes the start of the main draw matches on April 23.

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Emma Raducanu pictured at the French Open on May 23, 2022
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