Murray’s title, Nadal’s attempt to break the record and the vibrant clash between Kyrgios and Federer dominate the highlights of this year’s Masters 1000 in Madrid.
With a new season just around the corner, the Director of the Mutua Madrid Open Manolo Santana and the and the intermediary for the players Alberto Berasategui have chosen their five standout memories from this year’s tournament. Murray’s crown, a good week for Nadal and some local grit are just some of the greatest moments from 2015. These were the highlights of the ATP tournament:
- Welcome, Murray
The Scot was crowned champion of the tournament after upsetting Rafael Nadal in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory. Murray, who won the final tournament held at Casa de Campo (2008, on indoor hard court at the end of the season), won his first Masters 1000 on clay and his second clay title of the year (after victory in Munich). Until then the two-time Grand Slam champion had never triumphed on the surface. To lift the crown in Madrid, Murray had to see off Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marcel Granollers, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori (2014 finalist) and Nadal, whom he had never beaten on a clay court. The win gave the Briton a tenth Masters 1000 title for his packed trophy cabinet.
- Nadal within touching distance of the record
Despite not winning the trophy, which would have meant a record fifth title (after his victories in 2005, 2010, 2013 and 2014), Rafael Nadal was looking to find a spark in the Caja Mágica after a difficult start to the season, particularly early in the European clay swing. Although he won the Buenos Aires tournament, the Mallorcan landed in Madrid after bowing out in the semi-finals in Monte Carlo (to Novak Djokovic) and in the last sixteen in Conde de Godó in Barcelona (against Fabio Fognini). In the Spanish capital, however, the 14-time Grand Slam champion cruised to the final having lost just one set along the way, defeating Steve Johnson, Simone Bolelli, Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych. With the title at stake, Nadal was unable to cope with a peerless Andy Murray, who prevented the Spaniard from celebrating a record five titles at home
- Kyrgios, Federer and three nerve-wracking tiebreaks
Federer, three-time Mutua Madrid Open champion. The tie, of course, did not disappoint. Having produced 22 aces, after 2 hours and 37 minutes of intense battle, the Australian managed to come back and beat the Swiss 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, winning the deciding tiebreak 14-12. On a Manolo Santana Centre Court that was packed to the rafters, the 20 year old sealed a memorable defeat, managing to send Federer home in his Madrid opener. Kyrgios’ words perfectly summed up the achievement: “This is my best victory”, said the Australian after defeating the 17-time major winner, one of his childhood idols, in the Caja Mágica.
- Local grit: Verdasco and Granollers
Both starred in matches that went to the limit, decided on the finer details that opened their door to the third round in Madrid. While Fernando Verdasco had to work hard to beat Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, Marcel Granollers also had to dig deep against Gael Monfils, a very tough opponent, to win 7-6, 6-7, 6-4. There was a common thread running through the two matches: the fans were passionately supporting the members of the Armada as they showed off their grit and determination, qualities that Verdasco and Granollers made the most of in this year’s tournament.
- The Bopanna-Mergea connection
Coming in under the radar, and at the time the world number 24 team, Rohan Bopanna and Florian Mergea won the Mutua Madrid Open double titles after beating Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-7, 11-9 in the final. The Indian and Romanian pair, who later consolidated their partnership (finishing as runners-up at the ATP Finals in London), came through a tough draw in Madrid, seeing off, among others, Marcel Granollers and Marc López in the semi-finals. The reward for their great week in the Caja Mágica was the one they had dreamed of: the connection between Bopanna and Mergea led to a first Masters 1000 for the victorious duo.
In 2016, there will be more emotion, more surprises, more thrilling matches and more excitement in the tournament’s fifteenth year, which takes place from 29 April to 8 May in the Caja Mágica.