If this is the first time you have set foot in the Caja Mágica, never fear. It is a maze. For the first few minutes you will find yourself going around in circles, believing that you are actually on your way to the correct court, don’t worry. The same thing happens to everyone the first time they make their way into the world’s biggest tennis labyrinth. Once you get your bearings, the structure will start to make sense, you’ll find the odd shortcut and you will eventually admire the intelligent and original design of Madrid’s tennis paradise.
Whether we have rain, thunder, hail or sweltering sunshine, you are guaranteed tennis. Believe me, this is one of the great advantages the Mutua Madrid Open enjoys. “Sure, but that’s just common sense”, some of you will say. But when it comes to clay, we are seldom protected against the elements. Try telling that to Roland Garros, who are still battling with the authorities and neighbours to give their Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen courts the shelter they crave. After hours and hours of planning, you travel to Paris and when you get there it is announced over the loudspeakers that the day’s play has been suspended. Welcome to Madrid, where you will enjoy tennis no matter what.
In addition, the Caja Mágica labyrinth has courts that will provide the stage for some memorable matches. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s Novak Djokovic: “I do care a lot about Masters 1000 events. I think they always bring the best players in the world together. Some events, like in Europe, you have in one week, every single day, top quality matches. That’s something you don’t have even in a Grand Slam. That’s why it makes it even more difficult to go back-to-back days and win against Top 5, Top 10 players”.
Djokovic is right. To win in Madrid last year he had to beat a younger version of himself, the Croatian Borna Coric, who looks destined to be a star of the future. Then the Spanish number two Roberto Bautista. Later he saw off two certain candidates for glory, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. And in the final he had to get past Andy Murray, who eventually stole his number one spot at the end of the year. Just like he said, a great match every day of the week.
On top of all this you get the best women’s tennis too. Here you can see the queen of Roland Garros, Garbiñe Muguruza. And you will see her playing at home, where she feels most comfortable. You can enjoy the best tennis after just a short trip on the metro, bus or even a bike.
The first time I stepped into the Caja Mágica, I got lost. But that’s the Mutua Madrid Open for you. If you get lost, it’s likely you’ll end up on a tennis court. And there you will find one of the best WTA or ATP players in the world. That is guaranteed.
*Marta Mateo is a freelance journalist and member of the ITWA (International Tennis Writers Association), she has covered all of the grand slam tournaments