By Arseni Pérez*
A radiantly sunny day. Endless queues of people patiently snaking around the premises. Despite the heat and standing for a long time waiting, there are plenty of excited smiles decorating the faces of the personnel. Most of them welcome people with enthusiasm and always smile when the opportunity arises.
That is the first image that comes to my mind when people ask me about the Mutua Madrid Open. Perhaps it is a distorted sentiment exaggerated by the Hollywood instinct to give even the most trivial instants of our existence a dazzling varnish. But it is a daily image that I have seen repeated on several occasions before entering for a day’s competition, and one that makes me feel very good.
I could also say, of course, that in the vaults of my memory lies the first venue, the Madrid Arena, where we witnessed that classic final in 2005. The unforgettable way in which the young cyclone from Manacor produced one of his first epic comebacks in a match where he lost the first two sets to Croatian player Ivan Ljubicic.
Of course, the walkway installed so that the fans are able to see their favourite stars up close also stands out in my mind. It is one of the places in the world where this stimulating feedback began to intensify. And, naturally, the competitions where new values are drilled in for the future.
All of this is part and parcel of a tournament that has always challenged itself to look for something extra. Certainly it does not always succeed and not everything is perfect, of course, but Ion Tiriac has been pretty clear about the demanding innovate-or-die concept ever since the women’s Premier Mandatory and the men’s Masters 1000 were given a place. And so the tournament moved from hard court in autumn to the spring clay inside a magic box. A monumental space that consists of three courts with retractable roofs where the best tennis spectacle of the moment can be enjoyed, despite the inevitable last-minute withdrawals.
“How do you think Garbiñe will do in Madrid?”, “When will Rafa win again?”, “Let’s meet on Court 3”, “… well, I’m going to watch Djokovic train”. The hustle and bustle of fans produces a hotbed of communication, not virtual comms, but real, genuine communication. Human warmth is essential for keeping an event of this calibre up and running. On a personal level, at the Mutua Madrid Open I have had the enjoyable experience of being able to meet, through a love of the game, many people from all walks of life, both social and geographical. And best of all, I have been able to sense their good vibes and even their generous gratitude. A priceless feeling.
Fortunately, a few years back TVE won back the coverage of this great tournament, which has naturally become one of the centrepieces of our schedule. This year, in the company of Álex Corretja, Vivi Ruano, Anabel Medina, José Luis Villuendas, Nacho Calvo and Paco Caro –commentating on the matches-, Lourdes García Campos and Mercedes González –conducting interviews-, Virtudes Fernández –in editing-, Amat Carceller –presenting in the studio-, and a generous handful of wonderful professionals that are not seen on screen, we again have a great opportunity to share as much coverage of the tournament as possible –supported by our website, where all matches can be watched on all courts-.
Tennis is a great excuse to enjoy and share that human warmth. Meeting friends to watch the Mutua Madrid Open is synonymous with excitement. Don’t miss out!
*Arseni Pérez is a TVE journalist responsible for covering tennis.