The Madrid Open gets underway this Thursday, as tennis’ finest challenge for one of the game’s most distinguished titles outside of the four major Grand Slams.
Held in the Spanish capital every year, the tournament is a joint men’s and women’s professional tennis event, held every year on clay in the build-up to the French Open.
It started as a men’s only competition in 2002, before a premier women’s contest was introduced in 2009.
The tournament has been notable over the years, especially for being the first event to introduce blue clay –– which has subsequently not been used since, following complaints by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
A number of the world’s top female players are in action this week, but who has had the most success at Madrid in the past?
Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safin and Kiki Bertens are all one time winners, but here are the three women with the most singles titles to date:
The 23-time Grand Slam winner has reached two finals in Madrid, winning them both in straight-sets against Victoria Azarenka and Sharapova.
The American’s first win came in 2012 –– the inaugural year of blue clay, and she defended her title a year later before winning the French Open that same season.
Williams also won the doubles title with her sister Venus in 2010, beating Gisela Dulko and Flavia Penetta 6-2 7-5.
The former world number one will be absent this year though, having recently undergone oral surgery, and is not expected to return until Rome next month.
Halep has been one of the best players on clay for a number of years, as evidenced by her French Open win in 2018.
The 29-year-old has also performed consistently in Madrid, making four finals in the past six years.
Despite losing to Sharapova in 2014 and Bertens in 2019, the Romanian won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, against Dominika Cibulková and Kristina Mladenovic respectively.
This year, Halep is seeded third behind Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka. The two-time major winner will play wildcard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round.
Kvitová has never made the final at Roland Garros but has enjoyed remarkable success in Madrid over the last decade.
Having beaten Azarenka to the title in 2011, The Czech won the tournament for a second time in 2015 against Svetlana Kuznetsova and then a record third time in 2018 when she defeated Bertens.
Interestingly, Kvitová has never made it past the fourth round of the French Open in the years she’s won in Madrid, though there will still be every incentive for the former world number two to claim her fourth trophy in Spain this week.
Seeded ninth this year, Kvitová faces her fellow compatriot Marie Bouzková first up and could potentially meet Angelique Kerber in round two.