The 2019 Mutua Madrid Open was once again a very special tournament, because it brought together the Big 3 in the Caja Mágica for the first time in a clay-court tournament for three years. Roger Federer made his return to the surface. Rafael Nadal equalled the record for appearances on the Madrid clay, which tournament director Feliciano López had held on his own until then, while Novak Djokovic managed to lift his third Ion Tiriac Trophy. However, one of the biggest highlights was David Ferrer’s retirement from professional tennis after a prodigious career.
1. Final goodbye for Ferru
David Ferrer’s schedule included just six tournaments this season before he hung up his racquet. He chose venues with special significance in his outstanding career and the Alicante native decided that the Mutua Madrid Open would be the ideal stage to say goodbye in front of his family, fans and colleagues at an ATP Masters 1000 event. Having defeated Roberto Bautista, the 734th win of his career, the ex-world no. 3 said his goodbyes after his 1,111th match, against Alexander Zverev. The whole Manolo Santana Stadium was on its feet in recognition of one of the best careers in Spanish and international tennis. In union, Madrid cried #GraciasFerru.
2. Three of a kind for Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has become a Mutua Madrid Open mainstay. Since opening his account in 2011, he has managed to hoist the trophy to the skies of Spain’s capital on three occasions. After success in 2016, his latest triumph came this season, putting his hands on the trophy in the Caja Mágica without losing a single set for the first time in his career. The result brought an end to the Serb’s three year wait for a title on clay, his last coming at the 2016 French Open when he completed his Grand Slam. He rounded off a sensational performance in Madrid, in which he had to overcome Dominic Thiem, a specialist on the surface, in the semi-finals, with a resounding 6-3, 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
3. Federer’s return to clay
Djokovic won his third title in Madrid, the same number in Roger Federer’s trophy cabinet. The Swiss player, who had decided to rest during the clay swing in recent seasons, chose the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open as the stage for his return to the slowest surface. The conditions at the fourth ATP Masters 1000 on the calendar were favourable for his first contact with clay after a three-year absence. The 20-time Grand Slam winner needed just 52 minutes to see off Richard Gasquet (6-2, 6-3) in his opener. He also defeated Gael Monfils in a tight duel that was decided in the third-set tiebreaker (6-0, 4-6, 7-6), but Dominic Thiem brought an end to his campaign in the quarter-finals (6-3, 6-7, 4-6), despite the Swiss earning himself two match points.
4. Nadal and Verdasco equal Feliciano López
Before this season, there was only one player in the history of the tournament who could boast to having played in every edition of the Mutua Madrid Open. That player was Feliciano López, who had participated 17 times since 2002. However, his new role as tournament director means he is unable to take part in the competition and he therefore left the door open for two of his compatriots to equal his record in 2019. First, Rafa Nadal reached 17 seasons playing the tournament hosted in Spain’s capital, where he is also the player to have won the most titles (2005, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017). For his part, Fernando Verdasco has now also played on 17 consecutive occasions with the quarter-finals being his best result (2009, 2012).
5. Rojer/Tecau join the Bryan Bros club
If there is one thing that has been proved in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open it is that successfully defending the trophy is practically mission impossible. In the singles it has only been done by Rafa Nadal, while in the doubles it was a feat only accomplished by Bob and Mike Bryan since the tournament moved to the Caja Mágica in 2009. Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic (2009, 2014) were, besides the Americans, the only duo to lift the trophy on two occasions -although not consecutively- until this season when Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau earned their second title in Madrid (2016, 2019). The Dutch and Romanian players beat ‘singles’ players Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-3 in the final.