The Mutua Madrid Open has chosen the five best matches in its history to mark the tournament’s twentieth anniversary. After a social-media vote in which over 90,000 fans participated by choosing their favourites, these are the matches that came out on top.
#5 Serena Williams vs Azarenka
2015 Round of sixteen
Serena Williams arrived at Mutua Madrid Open as No. 1 in the WTA Ranking and ready to defend her title. In the last sixteen, having left compatriots Madison Brengle and Sloane Stephens in her wake, she met a player who already knew what it was to be the best in the world and to play a final in the Caja Mágica. So much so, that Victoria Azarenka pushed the American to the brink, forcing her to fend off three match points. Eventually, though, the match tipped in favour of the younger of the Williams sisters, 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(1).
#4 Federer vs Feliciano López
2011 Second round
Feliciano López has never beaten Roger Federer in the 13 times they have crossed paths, but one of his closest attempts came in the second round of the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open. The Spaniard, who had seen off Milos Raonic in his opener, took the Swiss to a third-set tiebreak, where he missed a smash that would have given him four match points. However, Federer responded and ended up inflicting a 7-6(13), 6-7(1), 7-6(7) defeat after two hours and 56 minutes.
#3 Sharapova vs Halep
In 2014, a 22-year-old Simona Halep was starting to show signs of what was to come, but Maria Sharapova was already an established star with countless hours of battle time under her belt. At the Mutua Madrid Open, she claimed one of the final titles of her career –her 31st of 35, to be specific—against the feisty Romanian, who forced the best out of her opponent in the Manolo Santana Stadium. In the 2014 final, Sharapova picked up her third straight victory against a Top 5 opponent, after coming back to win 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
#2 Nadal vs Ljubicic
Despite his youth, this is still one of the greatest finals in Rafael Nadal’s career and, without a doubt, the most epic in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open. Still on the indoor court of the old venue in Casa de Campo, the Spaniard –exhausted after a long season in which he had picked up 10 titles— lost the first two sets to Ivan Ljubicic, 3-6, 2-6. Just when he looked beaten, he dug deep and eventually turned the match on its head in an exhibition of determination, grit and talent. He strung together three sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3). In three hours and 53 minutes, Nadal had claimed his eleventh title of 2005, still the only one to his name on that surface.
#1 Nadal vs Djokovic
The first edition on the Caja Mágica clay, in 2009, produced what was at the time the longest match in the history of the ATP Masters 1000s. It was played by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals where, after four hours and three minutes, the Spaniard defeated the Serb 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9). Although the Balkan won more points that day (125 versus 120) and earned himself three match points in the third-set tiebreak, it was the Balearic Islander who sealed his passage to his fourth consecutive final, after Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. His record so far that year on clay was 17-0.
The Mutua Madrid Open will broadcast the five winning matches on social media (Twitter and Facebook) every Thursday at 19.00, starting on March 24.