Madrid Open facts and figures: From blue courts to red courts and models being used as ball girls
We give you the lowdown about the Madrid Open, a joint ATP Masters 1000 and WTA 1000 Mandatory event.
New kid on the block
While some ATP Masters Series events date back to the late 1800s, the Madrid Open only joined the circuit in 2002 and it was initially played on indoor hard courts. However, they switched to outdoor clay of Caja Mágica in 2009.
Speaking of clay… red or blue?
After being played on red clay for the first 10 years, organisers decided it was time for a change and switched to blue clay for the 2012 edition, but it didn’t go down well with players.
“It’s a lack of respect for tradition and the history of this area, I hope one day not having to play on blue grass,” Rafael Nadal tweeted on the back of the decision.
Many players also struggled on the blue surface and, unsurprisingly, they switched back to the traditional red dirt the following season. Well, it was more a case of the ATP forcing them to do so.
Here is Roger Federer winning the first and last title on blue clay in 2012…he is the only player to win the Madrid Open on hard court, blue clay and red clay.
2009 the year of change
From 2002 until 2008 it was held at the Madrid Arena and was a men’s only event, but it expanded in 2009 and became a WTA Premier Mandatory tournament (WTA 1000 Mandatory as from 2021) as well.
The expansion also meant a switch to Caja Mágica (Manzanares Park Tennis Center) and the current complex has a retractable-roof at the main court.
Capacity at the Estadio Manolo Santana is 12,442 while Estadio Arantxa Sánchez Vicario can hold 2,923 people and Estadio 3 is equipped with 1,772 seats.
Roll of honour
Andre Agassi won the first men’s edition in 2002 without lifting a racket in the final after Jiri Novak was forced to pull out because of a leg injury. The tournament had seven different winners during the first seven years.
However, the Big Four started to dominate when they switched to clay with Rafael Nadal winning five titles, Roger Federer three, Novak Djokovic three and Andy Murray one. Nadal, Federer and Murray also won titles on the hard court.
However, Alexander Zverev became the first player outside the Big Four to win the title since 2007 when he beat Dominic Thiem in the 2018 final.
Reigning world No 1 Djokovic is the defending champion after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2019 final (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid-19), however the 18-time Grand Slam winner is skipping the event.
On the women’s side, Dinara Safina won the inaugural edition in 2009 when she beat Caroline Wozniacki. Petra Kvitova has won the most titles in Madrid as she won title No 3 in 2018 while Serena Williams and Simona Halep have two trophies to their name.
Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands is the defending champion as she won her second WTA 1000 title when she beat Halep in the 2019 final.
Staying with Serena…
She is the only player to have won both the singles and doubles titles, but not in the same year. She teamed up with sister Venus in 2010 to win the women’s doubles and then won her singles trophies in 2012 and 2013. Serena won’t be in Madrid this year though.
Victoria Azarenka won the doubles in 2011 while partnering Maria Kirilenko, but she finished runner-up in the singles to Kvitova that year. She was again a finalist the following year when she was beaten by Serena.
A few more records
Nadal, of course, holds the record for most finals won (5) while Bob and Mike Bryan are the most successful doubles pair as they also have five titles to their name. Nadal has also appeared in eight finals.
However, Daniel Nestor has also won the men’s doubles five times (three times with Mark Knowles and twice with Nenad Zimonjic).
Italian pair Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the most successful female pair with two titles.
A Spanish fiesta?
Not quite. Nadal and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003) are the only Spaniards to have tasted success at the tournament. No Spanish female has appeared in the women’s singles final while Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro have a couple of women’s doubles runners-up trophies to their names.
Models take over
Ion Tiriac is the owner of the Madrid Open and he is a businessman who is never scared of trying new things. Back in 2004 he decided to do away with traditional ball boys and girls and replaced them with 19 to 28-year-old professional models.
Naturally it caused an outcry and organisers have decided to bring back the ball boys and girls, but the models still have a role to play.
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