The Madrid Open gets underway today, with a whole host of tennis’ top players in action.
Covid restrictions have meant that crowds in the Spanish capital are limited to 40 percent capacity, but there could still be late changes in the interest of safety.
With the majority of fans, therefore, set to watch the tournament from at home, here’s all the information you need to know about this year’s event:
What is it?
The Madrid Open is a clay court competition, which is classified as a Premier Mandatory event on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour.
It is generally played in the build-up to the French Open and this year will be the first time the tournament has been held over two weeks.
Formally known as the Madrid Masters, the event famously introduced blue clay for the first time in 2012, but scrapped the concept thereafter, following complaints from a number of players.
Where is it?
The tournament takes place in Madrid, Spain, at the La Caja Mágica sports complex, also known as the ‘Magic Box.’
Designed by French architect Dominique Perrault, the stadium is made entirely from wood, glass and iron.
The competition was previously men’s only and held at the Madrid Arena between 2002 and 2008, but expanded to become a joint event from 2009 onwards.
Who’s playing this year?
The draw is stacked with renowned names, including 37 out of the top 40 ranked singles players.
Serena Williams is the most notable absentee, as the 23-time Grand Slam winner continues to recover from oral surgery, while world number six Bianca Andreescu was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
Garbiñe Muguruza also pulled out late on, having suffered a muscle injury in her left leg.
Ashleigh Barty is seeded first and Naomi Osaka second, with Shelby Rogers and Misaki Doi their respective first-round opponents.
Who has previously won the competition?
Petra Kvitová is the most successful player in the tournament’s history, having won the title three times –– the most recent of which came in 2018, where she defeated Kiki Bertens.
World number three Simona Halep has reached the final on four occasions, winning back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.
Williams is also a two-time winner and won the inaugural blue court event back in 2012.
How to watch?
Amazon Prime Video will show every match of the Madrid Open for customers in the United Kingdom.
BeIN Sports and Eurosport will provide coverage for those in France, while DAZN will broadcast matches in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.News Now - Sport News