The History of the Mutua Madrid Open
The Mutua Madrid Open was established in 2002 as a men’s-only tournament played on hard courts. After almost a decade, the tournament became a joint ATP and WTA venture. Throughout its history, it has experienced significant changes that have shaped the event into what you know today. We will trace the history of this monumental tournament from its time as an indoor competition to its future expansion plans.
A “Magic Box” for a Major Tournament
From 2002 to 2008, the tournament was held in the Madrid Arena, where players competed on indoor courts in a fully closed-in stadium. Since 2009, the Madrid Open has been played at La Caja Mágica, which translates to the Magic Box. This venue is a sports complex located 650 meters above sea level. All the courts the tournament plays on are now outdoor clay courts. The Magic Box is also well-known for its retractable roof over the central court.
The same year the courts and venue changed saw another significant change for the tournament. This change has made a lasting impact that has benefited the sport.
Formerly Gender Exclusive, the Tournament Is Now Open to All
When it was established, the Mutua Madrid Open was a tournament exclusively for male tennis players. It remained this way for the first seven years of its history. In 2009, the tournament opened to female players as well. The event has seen ten different male and ten different female champions throughout its 20-year history. Since 2009, the tournament has remained open to all qualifying players, singles and doubles.
The Madrid Open is now a major stop on the women’s professional tennis tour. When it opened to women, it replaced other tournaments, establishing itself as a premier competition.
The tournament, forever changing, would soon make another alteration that did not go over so well with all the players. Showing the sponsors’ innovation, the courts would make another change.
That Time They Made the Courts Blue…
Shortly after mixing the tournament, the sponsors decided to change the traditional red clay courts to blue clay in 2012. This change aimed to make viewing easier for the fans and playing easier for the participants. The contrast of the blue against the ball’s yellow color supposedly made it easier to observe.
While the change made a beautiful ocean of blue across screens worldwide, several players threatened to boycott if the courts weren’t returned to their former red clay. Many argued that blue clay was more slippery than red clay and unsuitable for playing. Those threatening to boycott were primarily those who had lost that year’s competition.
Roger Federer was the only player to have won the tournament on all three surfaces throughout its history – hardcourt, red clay, and blue clay. Serena Williams, the champion in 2012, is the only female participant to have won on both red and blue clay.
Before the courts were red clay, players competed on hard courts. From 2002 to 2009, these courts were the standard.
It’s common for the winner of a tournament to get a large trophy to remember their victory. However, most trophies are not the caliber of the 2011 Madrid Open trophy.
The Most Expensive Trophy Ever Created for a Sporting Event
In 2011, the Mutua Madrid Open made a name for itself again, but this time it was for the trophy made for the tournament winner. Touted as the most complicated trophy in the world with no equivalent, that year’s award was unique from anything seen before. With its 96 individual components made of solid rose gold and 33 inset diamond totaling 10.9 carats, it is also the most expensive trophy ever created in the sports industry. The trophy’s design is an homage to all the sport’s greats and is shaped like a stairway.
Today, the ATP winner continues to get the Stairway to Heaven gold trophy, while the winner of the WTA gets a different design. For example, in 2018, the WTA winner received a trophy made of individual glass plates. This change occurred when the men’s and women’s tournaments began being held together.
The top ATP talent throughout the history of the Madrid Open is Rafael Nadal, while the top WTA talent is Petra Kvitova. They’ve both held the iconic trophies for this tournament multiple times.
Madrid Open Winners Multiple Times Over
Rafael Nadal is well-known in the tennis world. He also made history when he was one of the first winners of the Madrid Open when it switched from hard indoor courts to outdoor clay courts. He has won the tournament five times throughout his career in 2005, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2017. Petra Kvitova is a three-time Madrid Open winner. She won in 2011, 2015, and 2018.
We’ve seen how the trophies have changed over the years, but how do the prizes change? Let’s take a look at this year’s prizes versus last year’s.
The 2022 Playing Year
The Mutua Madrid Open in 2022 is one of just three clay court tournaments in Europe that are classified as ATP Masters 1000 events. It is also a WTA 1000 Tournament.
The prize pot for the 2022 tournament was a massive 13,151,120 EUR (13,144,018 USD) with winners taking home 1,041,570 EUR (1,041,007 USD). Compared to previous years, this year saw a tremendous hike in these numbers. The prize pot was up 151% over last year while the winner’s check was up 230% over last year.
It’s obvious that there is a lot of incentive to compete in this tournament. With the prizes increasing year over year, there’s little room for players not to want to participate.
Throughout all the changes in the tournament, ownership has recently been added to the list of things that are no longer constant.
New Ownership for a New Year
In 2019, Ion Tiriac, the head of Madrid Trophy Promotion (MTP), partnered with the city to renew the Madrid Open until at least 2031. Tiriac, as the tournament’s main sponsor, struck a deal to ensure that there would be a new stadium and that the city would manage the facilities in exchange for hefty payments from MTP. The new deal was set to take place in 2022.
In a deal initially announced in December of 2021, IMG, owner of other events such as the Miami Open, purchased the Mutua Madrid Open from Tiriac and MTP. The price paid was an estimated 360 million EUR (359,820,000 USD).
With any venue with celebrities or large crowds, security is always an issue. Establishing the right crew for the job is essential. Here’s what the team at the Madrid Open did to boost security to a new level.
Advancements in Security Include a Robotic Canine
Security has been a significant concern at all tennis events since the 1993 attack of player Monica Seles on the court. In response to these concerns, security at all tennis events has increased over the years. The Madrid Open has taken security to a new extreme with the Prosegur company. You may wonder why this company is so unique compared to all the other security companies out there.
In addition to their human employees, Prosegur also uses robotic canines as part of their security force. These robots can detect suspicious activity and alert agents as needed. With their advanced technology, they make a powerful asset to the security of this high-profile event.
The innovation of these robotic dogs also takes the risk out of using canine security. The potential for injury is significantly decreased, and the need for caring for the well-being of a live animal is removed. The technology behind these robots is so advanced that even the most well-trained German Shepherd cannot keep up, making them a more effective option than the standard security dog.
With all the great things that have happened so far in the history of the Madrid Open, it can only be expected that the sponsors will take it even further in the future. With expansion plans on the horizon, we have much to look forward to.
Expansion Plans for the Future Mean Greater Enjoyment for Fans
While the tournament has already been a massive event, it will get even bigger next year. The number of players will expand for the ATP and WTA to 96 each. The ATP competition will stretch from 8 days to 12 to match the WTA, and the ATP and WTA will run simultaneously, offering viewers plenty of action to choose from. With all the changes we’ve seen so far, it will be interesting to see what else the Mutua Madrid Open has to offer in the future.