Schedule of play:
Francesca Schiavone vs. Sara Errani
3 years ago, Schiavone defeated Errani in 3 sets here in Madrid. Can the veteran do it again? Now, the roles are reversed with Errani being the top ranked Italian and Schiavone struggling. Does Francesca have the last big win left in her? Frankly speaking, beating Sara isn't exactly a big win, but any win for Schiavone now is rare. Her form has plunged to a new low by losing to Garcia-Vidagany in Marrakech a few weeks ago. I don't expect Sara to lose this, not to a slumping Francesca.
Pick: Errani in 2 tight sets
Garbine Muguruza vs. Samantha Stosur
What a way to overcome a bad loss. Samantha Stosur demolished Cibulkova in double quick time to announce her intent on clay. Whatever happened in Oeiras is clearly behind her as she dominated the higher ranked Slovak. This doesn't bode well for the Spanish youngster. Stosur's game on clay is just much better than Garbine's. And with her limited movement, the Aussie will be sure to make Muguruza work for her points. I think Stosur has the potential to go far here.
Pick: Stosur in 2 sets
Sloane Stephens vs. Petra Cetkovska
Even though Sloane is relatively new to the tour, these 2 have already played 3 times and this will mark their fourth meeting. Cetkovska won their most recent meeting in Doha this year, and has always pushed Stephens to the brink. Can Petra even the heads to heads this time? Petra, like all Czech players, is an unknown entity. She can go from playing top level tennis, to losing easily to scrubs. I have a feeling though that she raises her game when she's up against better opponents. And with Sloane being on her least favorite surface, Cetkovska has a chance. She just needs to believe in herself.
Pick: Cetkovska in 3 sets
Sure win bets: Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
Upset alert: Sloane Stephens