(May 3, 2013) -- The best-case scenario for the World's top three players occurred when the draws for the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open were made on Friday.
It was the worst-case scenario for David Ferrer, however.
Fifth-seeded Nadal was drawn into Ferrer's section of the draw, meaning that defending champion Roger Federer and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic can breathe a sigh of relief that they won't be paid a visit from the king of clay in the quarterfinals.
David Ferrer, who has lost 14 straight matches against Nadal on clay, wasn't so lucky. But the good news for the World No. 4 is that he will likely get a chance to break that hideous streak against Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Ferrer could get Tommy Haas, Andreas Seppi, Marcos Baghdatis or resurgent Tommy Robredo as his round of 16 opponent, but his campaign will likely come to an abrupt end in the quarterfinals unless Nadal suffers a catastrophic upset earlier in the draw.
Nadal, who has been to four finals in Madrid, winning two, had his run of three straight finals interrupted last year when he lost in three sets to Fernando Verdasco in the round of 16.
The seven-time French Open champion could face Nicolas Almagro or Fabio Fognini in the round of 16 this year, before the expected quarterfinal with Ferrer.
Federer, who defeated Tomas Berdych on the blue clay in last year's final, could see Nadal in the semifinals if the seeds hold. While it's not the best news for the defending champion, it's better than his draw at Indian Wells, which pitted him against the Spaniard in the quarterfinals and ended in a lopsided loss as Federer tried to play through the pain of a bad back against an in-form Nadal.
Other than that potential last four matchup with his nemesis, the only titleless member of the top five in 2013 has a relatively uncomplicated route to the semis ahead of him, with 8th-seeded Richard Gasquet being the highest-seeded player in the quarter besides Federer himself.
Federer, who notched one of his two clay-court wins against Nadal in Madrid in the 2009 Madrid final, could face Upstart Aussie Bernard Tomic in the second round. He would face 14th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan in the round of 16, if the seeds hold.
Gasquet, who has been red-hot in 2013, could find himself facing either John Isner or Marin Cilic with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. Gasquet has reached the quarterfinals or better in the last two Masters 1000 events, and owns a stellar 23-6 record on the season.
Novak Djokovic won't have to face his archrival Nadal until the finals, but he'll have a minefield of top players to face if he is to reach the last two. The 2011 Madrid champion will likely have to deal with Grigor Dimitrov in the second round and Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round, and if he reaches the quarterfinals, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could be waiting.
In the other half of Djokovic's section, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych are slated to meet in the quarterfinals if the seeds hold.
Neither Murray nor Berdych has had a sparkling start to the clay-court season. Murray bowed out to Stan Wawrinka in Monte Carlo, winning only three games in that second-round clash, while Berdych has gone 2-2 on clay this spring, losing to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo and Tommy Robredo in Barcelona.
Murray has yet to win a clay-court title in his career.
Semifinals: Nadal over Federer, Djokovic over Berdych
Finals: Nadal over Djokovic
Men's singles action will begin on Sunday May 5.
(Photo Credit: Mutua Madrid Open)