The 5 players who have won the Madrid-Rome ‘Dirtball Double’ as Iga Swiatek achieves rare feat

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal Italian Open champion
Rafael Nadal (ESP) celebrates after winning Italian Open

Iga Swiatek has become only the fifth player – man or woman – to win the Madrid Open-Italian Open double as she followed in the footsteps of four fellow world No 1s.

Just a fortnight after she won the Madrid Open for the first time in her career, Swiatek has become only the third WTA Tour player and fifth player overall to follow up the Spanish trophy with the title in Rome.

In a repeat of the Madrid final, the four-time Grand Slam winner faced world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the showpiece match at Foro Italico.

The Pole, who won her third title in the Italian capital following her successes in 2021 and 2022, defeated Sabalenka 6-2, 6-3 for her 21st career title.

Ahead of the match, Swiatek insisted that she was not focusing on statistics.

“I’m not really thinking about the statistics or history, and it’s easier that way because it makes you play more relaxed and freely,” she said.

“I’m going to play the best tennis I can in the final and if I take it easy step by step then it’ll be better than thinking about winning.”

READ MORE: The 9 players who have defeated Iga Swiatek on clay: Featuring a 45-minute demolition by a former world No 1

The Pole did produce her best tennis as she went on to achieve the rare feat, emulating four other world No 1s to win the Dirtball Double since the introduction of the ATP and WTA 1000 formats in 2009 with the events being staged back-to-back.

Serena Williams – 2013

Serena Williams became the second player on the WTA Tour to win back-to-back titles on the European clay courts when she lifted the trophies in consecutive weeks as it was one-week tournaments back then.

The tennis legend won the Madrid Open with a 6–1, 6–4 victory over fierce rival Maria Sharapova and a week later she lifted the Italian Open trophy with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Victoria Azarenka.

Dinara Safina – 2009

Russian Safina was the first player to achieve the double when she defeated compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final of the Italian Open – which was a WTA Premier 5 event at the time – and followed it up with the Madrid Open trophy (WTA Premier Mandatory) by beating Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

Rafael Nadal – 2010 and 2013

Nadal became the first player to win the back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 clay double in 2010 – although there was a bit of a break between the two events. The Italian Open final was held on May 2 and the Madrid Open only started on May 10.

Tennis great Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the final at Foro Italico and two weeks later he beat fellow legend Roger Federer at Park Manzanares.

Three years later the calendar switched as the Madrid Open was first and was followed immediately by the Rome tournament. Nadal first beat Stanislas Wawrinka in Spain and then got the better of Federer in Italy.

Novak Djokovic – 2011

Djokovic followed in Nadal’s footsteps in 2011 and he did it by beating the Spaniards in both finals.

The Serbian beat Nadal 7-5, 6–4 in the Madrid Open final and followed it up with a 6–4, 6–4 victory in Rome a week later.

Those Who Missed Out

On the WTA Tour side, two players came within one victory of achieving the Madrid-Rome double as Simona Halep won in the Spanish capital in 2017 and then lost the Rome final against Elina Svitolina. In 2022, Ons Jabeur defeated Jessica Pegula in Madrid before losing against Swiatek in the Italian Open final.

When the Madrid Open moved from October to May in 2009, Nadal won the Rome title and then finished runner-up to Federer in Spain.

Nadal also won in Madrid in 2014 and lost the Rome final against Djokovic. Meanwhile, Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in the Madrid Open final in 2016, but Murray then defeated Djokovic in the Rome final.

Alexander Zverev also came within one win in 2018 as he beat Dominic Thiem in the Madrid final before losing the Rome showpiece match against Nadal. Djokovic won the 2019 Madrid Open, but then lost in Madrid against Nadal.

READ MORE: The 5 men who have won the Italian Open since Rafael Nadal’s debut, ft. Novak Djokovic