It hasn't exactly been that long since the U.S. Open, but it seems like it's been a while since we had a really big tournament on our hands to get excited about. Perhaps that's because the summer is so jam-packed full of awesome tennis action that five weeks of no Grand Slams or Master Series seem like an eternity.
Well, the Masters Series are back next week in Madrid, and the qualifying draw is out.
At the top spot we have #1 seed Ernests Gulbis, who, as you probably know if you've read any of my stuff recently or get on any tennis message boards, is one of my favorites at the moment. He has Gabashvili, Gicquel, and Ramirez-Hidalgo in his section so it won't be easy but he should come through unscathed.
I'd also like to see Ginepri, another one of my favorites and hometown boy, qualify out of a relatively easy portion of the draw.
Others to watch in the qualies include Koubek, Vliegen, Massu, Calleri, and Dancevic.
Hopefully the main draw will come out soon so we can see where the qualifiers are put in and start envisioning potential enticing first round matches with potential qualifiers.
My prediction for the six qualifiers are, in order of their position in the draw: Gulbis, Ginepri, Bolelli, Koubek, Vliegen, and Dancevic. Of those I think it's safe to say that Gulbis would be the scariest first-round opponent for a player in the main draw, while Koubek and Dancevic could also present problems in the early rounds.