The Mutua Madrid Open never fails to make an impression. Year after year, the Madrid clay invites the best players in the world to come and add their achievements, stories and stats to the tournament’s history, as they have been doing ever since the ATP Masters 1000 arrived in Spain in 2002. A few years later, in 2009 to be precise, it opened its doors to the women’s tour. Since then, countless matches and records have been produced that are sure to be added to in the 2021 edition. First though, here are 10 of the most intriguing moments from the Mutua Madrid Open:
1. Alexander Zverev, an intruder among the No. 1s
On 13 May 2018, Alexander Zverev defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4 to become the first player never to have reached the peak of the rankings to win in the Caja Mágica. The clay in Madrid is not just any clay, and the young 23-year-old player was the first to dethrone the big four (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) who have dominated the Mutua Madrid Open since its move to this surface. You have to go back to 2007 to find the last ‘Alexander Zverev’, the year when David Nalbandian fought back to beat Federer in Madrid (1-6, 6-3, 6-3), when it was still played on hard court.
2. David Ferrer’s adios
One year later, Alexander Zverev also witnessed one of the most memorable moments of the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. The German was celebrating another win in the second round of the tournament, but all eyes in the Manolo Santana Stadium were on his opponent. On 8 May 2019, having just turned 37, David Ferrer chose the clay of the Madrid ATP Masters 1000 to play the last match of his career. In addition to the 27 titles, three Davis Cups and 734 wins he racked up in his 19 seasons as a professional, the ex-world No. 3 also took with him the recognition of everyone there to witness his retirement in the Caja Mágica.
3. Verdasco seals his 500th career victory
From one well-known Spaniard to another record-breaking one. Fernando Verdasco, a wildcard at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open, produced his 500th career win on 8 May 2018, it is a milestone that only five of his countrymen had previously achieved; Tommy Robredo, Carlos Moyà, Manuel Orantes, David Ferrer and Rafa Nadal. The result came in the first-round match that saw the Madrid player square off against the Italian Paolo Lorenzi, whom he beat 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 24 minutes. Verdasco is back at home in 2021 to become the player with the most participations in the tournament (18), a feat he shares with Nadal.
4. Two in one for Venus Williams
Another player who has been invited to play the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open is Venus Williams.
The American will be playing on the Madrid clay for the sixth time, although it will be tough to match her 2010 performance. Eleven years ago, the elder of the Williams sisters became the first player to play in both the doubles and singles finals in the same year. Having lost the singles final to Aravane Rezaï (6-2, 7-5), Venus was crowned champion of the doubles together with her sister Serena, beating the pair formed by Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 7-5.
5. The longest-ever ATP Masters 1000 match
Four hours and three minutes. The exact time Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic spent on the Caja Mágica clay together in 2009 -the first year in which the surface was used in the Spanish capital- in the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open. It is still the longest three-set match in the history of the ATP Masters 1000s. In that unforgettable battle, the Spaniard eventually beat the Serb 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9). However, the Manacor native would have to wait for his second title in Madrid as he lost the final to Roger Federer (6-4, 6-4). One year later, he would have his revenge on the Swiss.
6. Murray opens his account on clay
Nor would Rafa Nadal lift the trophy at the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open, although this time it was Briton Andy Murray who dashed his hopes (6-3, 6-4). This, the second Madrid tournament that the Glasgow-born player would claim after winning the 2008 edition, was not just any ATP Masters 1000. In 2015, Andy Murray won his first tournament in the category on the Madrid clay. The player who topped the ATP Ranking in 2016 had also just won his first ever title on clay in Munich in the same year.
7. Record attendance in 2019
The last time the Mutua Madrid Open took place was in 2019. But, who knows what might have happened if COVID-19 had not led to the suspension of the 2020 tournament? In 2019 the joint ATP Masters and WTA 1000 tournament recorded its highest ever attendance with 278,000 spectators, 8,000 and 2.9% more than the previous year. The Madrid tournament averaged 30,000 visitors per day.
8. Halep and Kvitova, queens of Madrid
Without a doubt, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are two of the players to have attracted the most public to the Madrid WTA 1000 since 2009, the year when the women’s tournament was first played in the Spanish capital. Since then, the Romanian and Czech, respectively, have played the most finals and won the most titles in Madrid. The current No. 3 in the WTA Ranking has played a total of 4 finals, of which she won two on the trot (2016 and 2017) and lost the other two. For her part, Kvitova has won all the finals she has played (2011, 2015 and 2018).
9. Nadal, now you see him, now you don’t
Three years after winning his last Mutua Madrid Open, Rafa Nadal arrived at the 2013 tournament looking for revenge. Although Stan Wawrinka stood in his way in the final, the man from Manacor ended up setting a record in the Caja Mágica. The world No. 3’s victory over the Swiss (6-2, 6-4) was the quickest in the tournament’s history at just 72 minutes. Alexander Zverev came close to beating the mark at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open, where was crowned champion after beating Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4 in 78 minutes.
10. Ferrero paves the way
But long before Nadal’s first inroads on the Madrid clay, there was another Spanish player making history at the tournament; Juan Carlos Ferrero is still, together with the Manacor native, the only Spaniard to have reached a final in Madrid, moreover, he won it. In was in 2003, on hard court and with five-set matches, when the player from Ontinyent beat Nicolás Massú 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. In 2021, Juan Carlos Ferrero will be back at the Mutua Madrid Open, this time as coach to young wildcard Carlos Alcaraz.