If you were a little shocked when you read the title of this piece, don’t worry, breathe easy and keep reading. The Mutua Madrid Open is celebrating its birthday; what better time to recount a few war stories?
I remember the first ever staging of the tournament, back in 2002, when it was a Tennis Masters Series event. Back then it was held in the Rockódromo in Casa de Campo, in October and on hardcourt. I experienced the first year as a spectator. I had seen a lot of live tennis matches, but I had never had the chance to watch Andre Agassi. I chose the worst day, the final.
When I got to the court they announced that the American’s opponent -Jiri Novak- could not play because he was injured and that we would see an exhibition match between Carlos Moyà and Pato Clavet instead. It was not the same thing, but I had a good time. Far from causing me eternal frustration, the incident left me wanting more and so I began to attend the tournament every year, always as a fan, until I managed to finish my degree, find a job and experience it as a journalist.
My debut with a journalist’s pass in my pocket was at the 2007 TMS. From that year, when the best David Nalbandian in my memory took the spoils -beating Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the trot- I remember three special moments: the casting for the model-ballboys, the first big innovation of a tournament that has always sought to be at the forefront; the two sides of the Djokovic coin, capable of both making the journalists wait 45 minutes in the press room and taking to the court in a Real Madrid shirt; experiencing Ivo Karlovic’s serve from less than a metre away (I never saw a player serve with such virulence), or the five-star catering, where those colleagues that you would never see when a day’s play spilled over into the early hours had a permanent spot.
2009 was moving time. From the Madrid Arena to the Caja Mágica and from cement to clay. From a range of winners to always crowning one of the Big Four (Nadal -three-, Federer -two-, Djokovic -one-, Murray -one-). From only enjoying the ATP players, to also relishing the stars of the WTA. Great news for tennis lovers!
It was hard for us to get used to the majesty of the construction, the overload of matches and the computer multitasking. Above all with the birth of Setball.radio, a project that was born out of RadioMARCA and found its feet on level -2 of the facility. It is an honour for any writer to have been present at its gestation, sharing good times on air with colleagues and stars of the tennis world.
Like on any self-respecting birthday, you get a wish before blowing out the candles: mine would be for Stadium two to be called the Virginia Ruano Stadium. I do not believe Madrid tennis could have a better godmother than ‘the third musketeer’. Congratulations and many happy returns…
*David Menayo is a journalist for MARCA, he has been part of Setball.radio and covered various tournaments on tour, as well as the London Olympic Games in 2012