History of the Mutua Madrid Open. The eternal field for experiments

by: TennisMood May 09, 2017 95

History of the Mutua Madrid Open. The eternal field for experiments

Location: Madrid, Spain
Venue: Caja Mágica (2009–present)
Madrid Arena (2002–2008)
Surface: Hard court (indoors) (2002–2008)
Clay court (red) (2009–2011, 2013-present)
Clay court (blue) (2012)

Tournament Director: Manolo Santana
Tournament President and CEO: Gerard Tsobanian
TV Schedule: Madrid Live Streaming
Prize Money: Men’s – € 5,719,660 Women’s – € 4,771,360
Sponsored by: Mutua Madrileña
Owner of the tournament: Ion Ţiriac

History of Madrid Open can’t be called a simple one! We’ve found out what makes it so unusual, provocative and attractive at the same time.

Madrid is the capital of Spain and located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. This cosmopolitan city is the center of Spanish business, parliament and is home to the Spanish Royal Family. Beyond that, during the first week of May one of four Premier Mandatory events on the tennis calendar, the Mutua Madrid Open is held there, at La Caja Mágica, through the history of Madrid Open.


The world’s top tennis players come to “the Magic Box” to play the Mutua Madrid Open, as it is part of the world’s elite tennis professional tournaments. In order of importance it is placed only behind the Grand Slams, as well as it is one of the few opens in the world in which the male and female categories are played simultaneously.

The Mutua Madrid Open (also known as the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open in the past and before that the Madrid Masters) is classified as a Premier Mandatory event on the Women’s Tennis Association tour and an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour .Both tournaments are the second-highest caliber in tennis rank and offer 1000 ranking points to the tournament winner.

The Mutua Madrid Open returns in 2016 for just its eighth outing, having debuted on tour in 2009.
This year Madrid Masters will be the 27th play of the tournament. In male singles 56 players and in doubles – 24 pairs will compete. The female side will be represented by 64 players in singles and 32 pairs in doubles.

But the Mutua Madrid Open is not limited just by tennis. It also became business and entertainment place. It holds 30 boutiques, about 20 stands of sponsors, and the area exclusively for nearly 4,000 guests, who come to talk business while watching tennis on any of the available 400 boxes. The cost of these boxes ranges from 35,000 to 49,000 euros, according to its location on the center court Manola Sanatana.

Through these 15 years, the Mutua Madrid Open has also extended its list of sponsors. Currently, Samsung, Mercedes, El Corte Ingles, Legalitas, Sodexo, Ohlimpia, Schweppes, Addeco, Mary Kay, AC, Hotels, Brand, ABC, Piel de Toro, Dunlop, Air Europa, Estrella Damm, Rolex, Toscaf, Prosegur and Ricoh advance funds in exchange for a picture in the most significant tennis tournaments in Madrid and Spain.

However, the main sponsors, which make their most economic contribution and logic publicity impact, are still Mutua Madrileña and the city of Madrid. These municipal sources established the value at about 110 million euros as the contribution of the tournament to the economy of the city (around 10% remain in the treasury of the City of Madrid) more than 8,000 workplaces, direct and indirect, for the preparation and holding the event with about 70,000,000 potential viewers.

Total financial commitment of the event is € 5,719,660 for ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and € 4,771,360 for WTA Premier Mandatory that is one of the largest financial commitments in tennis, except for the Grand Slam tournaments.

La Caja Mágica

La Caja Mágica (translated as the “Magic Box”), also known as the Manzanares Park Tennis Center, is one of the most magnificent tennis facilities in the world. It was designed completely of glass and steel by leading French architect Dominique Perrault.

caja magica madrid

An impressive and modern tennis complex houses three clay courts with retractable roofs that allow for up to three matches to be played simultaneously even in the event of rain, a luxury that none of the four majors can offer. The Center Manolo Santana Stadium has a seating capacity of 12,442, Court 2 – 3,500 and Court 2 – 2,500 people. Beyond these three indoor /outdoor courts, the “Caja Mágica” has 16 outdoor courts, five courts with a covered area for 350 spectators each, six practice courts, a pool, headquarters for the Madrid Tennis Federation, a tennis school, clubhouse, press center, stadium boxes and other private areas and restaurants.

History of Madrid Open Tournament.Experiments and victories

The history of Madrid Open is quite complex and begins from Stockholm, in spite of Madrid itself. But during these fifteen years, from 2002 to 2016, it has established itself as one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments circuit within the category of Masters 1000.

So, the tournament starts in Sweden in 1990 (since then, this tournament was included in so called “super nine”), when German Boris Becker won Swiss Stefan Edberg and in a year repeated his victory in the similar final.

Boris Becker

The tournament was held there, in Stockholm until 1994. An interesting fact is that four of five trophies got German tennis players – Boris Becker got three of them and one victory got Michael Stich. Since 1995 the occasion gained its residence in Germany for 6 years. The first year was led in Essen and since 1996 it moved to Stuttgart.

Michael Stich Boris Becker

In 1999 the victory on Masters secured Thomas Enqvist.

Thomas Enqvist

And in 2001, the title gained the first current tennis player Tommy Haas with the same score 6:2 in three sets.
Due to financial reasons, at the beginning of the 2002 season, the tournament was settled in Madrid, where thanks to Ion Tiriac began its great transformation.

Already in 2003, the first win on Masters celebrated the Spanish player. Juan Carlos Ferrero became triumphant.

Juan Carlos Ferrero

What has not changed during the following 13 issues, it has been the names of the winners. Always illustrious players. There has never been room for surprises in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open.
There have been eight champions in the 14 editions and only three multiple winners. Rafa, Federer and Murray. However, there are also as many as five single-time champions here.

American Andre Agassi won the inaugural staging of the event in 2002.

Then Spaniards in the whole have won the title five times since 2002, with Spain’s King of Clay Rafael Nadal lifting the trophy for the fourth time in 2014.

Rafael Nadal 2

The roll-call of winners is testament to the greatness of this trophy: American Andre Agassi (2002), the fisrt Spanish conquer Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003), Russian Marat Safin (2004). Rafael Nadal has signed four victories (2005, 2010, 2013 and 2014), becoming the player who more times has emerged victorious Mutua Madrid Arena. He lost once each to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, while his wins came against Ivan Ljubicic, Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.

The Smiss Roger Federer has the next-best record here after Rafa. He has won three finals (2006, 2009 and 2012), including one against Nadal. His other two wins were against Fernando Gonzales and Tomas Berdych. He has also lost twice in a final, once each to Rafa and to David Nalbandian.
In 2007 Argentine David Nalbandian won.

Surprisingly the Scottish player Andy Murray has two wins here. One against Giles Simon back in 2008. His second title on clay at the last edition of the Mutua Madrid Open 2015 he took after beating Rafael Nadal. Murray is the current defending champion.

Novak Djokovic has just one final entry to his name, in 2011 when he defeated Rafa to be crowned champion in the men’s competition.

Wawrinka has only a solitary runners-up position here, after losing to Rafa in 2013.

Similarly, if the runners-up position is analyzed, only Rafa has lost thrice and Federer twice. There are nine one-time finalists. This also indicates a close and open tournament. There is, however, a serious flaw in the above analysis. What has not been taken into account is that this has been a clay court tournament from 2009, while from 2002-2008 it was played on hard court indoors. No surprise then, that from 2009 onwards Nadal has figured in six out of the seven finals here.
A layman’s interpretation of the above stats would suggest Rafa and Federer are the most likely players to win here, but then Djokovic is the world Number 1 and, despite an early loss in Monte Carlo, is in excellent form. He remains the man to beat.

It seems that the 2016 tournament will be won by one of these five. Since 2008, no one outside the ‘Big Four’ has won it.

big four

As for the best female rackets, in the women’s competition, victory went to Dinara Safina (2009), Aravane Rezaï (2010), Petra Kvitová (2011 and 2015), Serena Williams (2012 and 2013).

Back to red clay in 2013, Madrid saw its first repeat female winner in Serena Williams. Maria Sharapova was victorious in 2014 in the women’s competition.

In 2015 the Czech player Petra Kvitova beat her Russian rival Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In the doubles, the winning pairs were Florin Mergea (Rom)-Rohan Bopanna (Ind) and Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz)-Casey Dellacqua (Aus).

As for the perfect attendance: Madrid native Feliciano Lopez is the only player in the tournament’s 15-year history of Madrid to participate in every singles draw (since 2002). Lopez has an 18-14 career record in his hometown tournament, reaching the quarter-finals four times (2003, ‘07-08 and ’14).

The owner and the blue clay

Ion Tiriac, nicknamed the Brasov Bulldozer, is the current owner of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Ion Tiriac

Țiriac first appeared on the international sports scene as an ice hockey player on the Romanian national team at the 1964 Winter Olympics. Shortly after that, he switched to tennis as his main sport. With fellow Romanian Ilie Năstase, he won the men’s doubles in the 1970 French Open and reached the Davis Cup finals three times in the 1970s.
After retirement as a player, he became coach/manager of various players including Ilie Năstase, Guillermo Vilas, Mary Joe Fernández, Goran Ivanišević and Marat Safin.
He managed Boris Becker from 1984 to 1993. In 1998 he became president of the Romanian National Olympic Committee.

As far as Ion wanted to organize the fifth “Grand Slam” tournament, Ion moved the venue to the Park Manzanares, at the Caja Magica, where the tournament was classified as an ATP Masters Series event on the men’s tour.
Also, Ion achieved his purpose and the tournament was expanded to include WTA professionals – Premier Mandatory.
But he still didn’t like the tournament’s place in the calendar so when ATP was reorganizing the calendar in 2009, he managed to change everything. Tiriac has come to an agreement to move the Madrid Masters from late autumn to May. But from 2002 through 2008 the tournament was played on indoor hard courts. So the sponsors were forced to change the surface and in 2009 the Mutua Madrid Open transitioned from hard court to clay outdoor courts, becoming one of three outdoor clay ATP World Tour Masters 1000s.

But this irrepressible businessman didn’t stop and proposed a new color of blue clay for all the courts, on the grounds. Because first of all it would supposedly be better visually, especially for viewers on television(it’s far more easier to see yellow ball on a blue court).And critics, in their turn, suggested that the adaptation of blue color, is a nod to the titular sponsor of the tournament, the Spanish insurance giant Mutua Madrileña.

On 1 December 2011, due to the insistence of Tiriac, the blue clay surface was officially approved for the 2012 edition of the tournament, in both the ATP and WTA circuits. Manuel Santana, the Open’s current director, has assured that aside from the color, the surface keeps the same properties as the traditional red clay.

However, after players expressed concern about slipping over and not feeling steady on the surface, the tournament returned to the traditional red clay for 2013. So the blue color lasted only one issue.
From the hard courts to clay, from the red to the blue and now back to the red, it’s been quite a journey already for the Madrid Masters under tournament impresario Ion Tiriac.

That year was a controversial experiment which drew mixed reception from fans and players alike. It also succeeded in dividing the Williams sisters. Venus called the move “a real fashion statement and a good idea”, while Serena stated: “No one likes it. I’m on the council, we all voted against it. It’s interesting to see that they just did what they wanted. I just wish they hadn’t asked us and wasted our time.” No other tournament in the sport’s history has ever opted for blue clay, and the Madrid Open’s move back to traditional clay set the event back on a positive track. Currently, the Madrid Open is played on red clay.

Of course, this idea received the most attention, but it was not the last specific change. Since its inception, the Mutua Madrid Open has been a leader in innovations. Those have included having models work as ball boys and ball girls, showing the finals in 3D at Spanish cinemas, having Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki play ‘Underground Tennis’ on the tracks of one of Madrid’s busiest Metro stations in 2009 and having Maria Sharapova square off with Spanish motorcycle rider Fonsi Nieto in a speed competition of her serve against his bike in 2010.

But there is one more, not less interesting innovation. The tournament has unveiled a new trophy made of 18 karats diamond-encrusted gold, that cost “several million” to make, according to Roland Alexander, the Swiss designer responsible.


The trophy bears the names of the previous winners of the tournament as well as that of the ever-modest event owner Ion Tiriac.
“I had always wanted to create a unique trophy, just to show that our tournament, the Madrid Open, is different from other tournaments in the world, “said Tiriac.

Roland Alexander trophy

In 2013 Tiriac was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Țiriac ran major men’s events in Germany, including the season-ending championships in Hanover. Although tennis is now a much smaller part of his portfolio and occupies only 5 percent of his time, he has taken particular pleasure and pride in making Madrid Tennis Open a combined men’s and women’s event with €7.2 million in total prize money. Ion became a successful billionaire businessman. Țiriac stated that he has an annual net profit of over €35 million and that his tournament brings to Madrid revenues exceeding €200 million.

2016 – a new Guinness World Record

This year, on the 1st of May 2016, on the International Workers’ Day, the Mutua Madrid Open made history by setting a new Guinness World Record for the most people bouncing tennis balls on tennis racquets simultaneously for ten seconds. To celebrate the anniversary of employment at the tournament and to pay homage to the more than 8,000 workers who were at least somehow involved in this competition, Adecco and the tournament organizers ran the event in the Caja Mágica, where the Madrid tournament beat the record of 767 people set at the China Open last year.
In accordance with the official count, in Madrid, the number achieved 1,474 that gave the Mutua Madrid Open a new record.


The participants were provided with rackets and balls courtesy of Dunlop and accompanied in the attempt by several WTA and ATP players: Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Arantxa Parra Santoja, Anabel Medina, Olga Savchuk, Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva all took part, as did tournament director Manolo Santana and the owner of the Mutua Madrid Open, Ion Tiriac.


“On International Workers’ Day, we wanted to pay homage to all of Spain’s workers and in particular the 8,000 employees we have contracted over the course of the last 15 years at the Mutua Madrid Open, who has helped this tournament become one of the most important in our country,” said Adecco CEO Enrique Sánchez.
For his part, Manolo Santana, the director of the event, stated: “it is important that the people know that we create a huge number of jobs every year. It would have been impossible for the Mutua Madrid Open to reach 15 years without the great workers we have had, and that is why this Guinness record was a great tribute to all of them”.

More information about the Mutua Madrid Open 2016

Back To Top