With the 2013 Madrid Open just a week away the ATP’s elite players are gearing up for what could be a scintillating showdown of tennis on smooth Spanish clay.

Madrid is seen as the ultimate precursor to the French Open – which begins later this May – and with a handful of players eyeing up this season’s second Grand Slam events here are sure to reflect those in Paris.

Here are our top picks for tennis betting fans:

Rafael Nadal: Favorite 

There is only one man right now who can stop Nadal and that is himself, if his body fails to hold up to the strains he’s currently putting it under. Despite seven months out with injury Nadal has come back stronger than ever. He won his fourth title of the season last week at Barcelona, has made the final in each of the seven tournaments he’s played and dropped just eight sets in 2013.

The clay king is set to dominate Roland Garros this summer and will easily make the final in Madrid.

Novak Djokovic: Main Challenger 

The world number one proved his mettle on clay with a clinical 6-2 7-6 final victory over Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters and is the main challenger for the Spaniard this clay season.

Djokovic may have spent the early campaign on hard courts but his transition to another surface has been a smooth one and online betting fans can expect him to make the final with Nadal – unless the pair are drawn in the same half.

Federer-Madrid-Open

Roger Federer: Potential Finalist 

The glittering career of this graceful Wimbledon master is slowly coming to an end and Federer seems to realise it. He’s played just four tournaments all year, not yet surpassed a semi-final stage and will be tested for the first time on clay in Madrid.

Federer still has the class to win on this surface but whether or not he has the fitness and willpower to grind out heavy rallies on the baseline is another question. Betting fans should expect a last-four berth at best.

Andy Murray: Early Dropout 

Murray suffered a drop in his ranking status after crashing out early in the Monte Carlo Masters and he may plummet further if his failure to cope with clay continues into Roland Garros.

The Brit whimpered out of Monaco in the third round to Stanislas Wawrinka, making 24 unforced errors over the two-set match. It wasn’t good enough and Murray knew it, but even this realization won’t help his chances at Madrid.

Written by Alex Jackson