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Studying the evolution of the Madrid Open trophy through the eyes of its greatest champions, Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova (L) and Rafael Nadal
Petra Kvitova (L) and Rafael Nadal
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Vedant Chandel

Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova are the most successful men's and women's singles players at the Madrid Open.

The tournament has given the sport of tennis' some of its firsts, including the introduction of blue clay and the most expensive tennis trophy.

Both Nadal and Kvitova -- who share seven Mutua Madrid Open crowns between them -- have lifted the iconic "stairway to heaven" trophy on multiple occasions. Here, we trace the history of the Madrid Open and its many winners' trophies.

Rafael Nadal with the 2010 Madrid Open shield

Rafael Nadal with the 2010 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open winner's trophy.
Rafael Nadal with the 2010 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open winner's trophy.

Rafael Nadal was one of the first players to win the Madrid Open after the tournament made the switch from being an indoor hardcourt tournament to clay — played at its current venue of Caja Magica.

The Spaniard raced to the title in 2010, dropping just one set against Nicolas Almagro in the semifinals. Nadal beat Roger Federer in the final to get his hands on the silver shield that bore the inscription "Mutua Madrid Open Men's singles champion 2010".

And while the trophy's esthetics might pale in comparison to the ones that came after, the title held huge significance for Nadal as it was one of his first big claycourt triumphs in front of his home fans.

Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova with the "stairway to heaven" trophy

Nadal and Kvitova with the "stairway to heaven" trophies.
Nadal and Kvitova with the "stairway to heaven" trophies.

Dubbed as "the most expensive" trophy in tennis at the time of its inception, the Madrid Open's Roland Iten-designed statuette was introduced in 2011 for the tournament's 10th anniversary.

The 430 mm high-trophy was modeled around a staircase that Iten came across at a winery in the Spanish countryside. The trophy itself weighs 7.5 kilograms, 6.5 of which are pure gold, and has 96 individual, hand-finished components, including 32 racquet-shaped stairs with the names of tennis legends inscribed around them.

The trophy was commissioned by then tournament director Ion Tiriac who wanted Iten to come up with a design like no other. Speaking of the staircase design with the names of tennis players, the Swiss designer said:

"I needed to find a design solution that honored all the tennis greats equally. And each of the tennis players that have made history in the sport – from John McEnroe to Serena Williams, from Roger Federer to Rafael Nadal, and even to Margaret Smith herself – possesses his or her own individual skill and style."

Nadal has lifted the now-famous trophy on a total of three occasions—2013, 2014 and 2017—while Kvitova has gotten her hands on the "stairway to heaven" statuette twice— 2011 and 2015.

Petra Kvitova with the 2018 glass trophy

Kvitova witth the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open trophy.
Kvitova witth the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open trophy.

In addition to her 2011 and 2015 triumphs, Petra Kvitova also won the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open for her third title in the Spanish capital.

While the men's singles champions continue to be presented with the Ion Tiriac trophy, the women's field has been awarded different silverware ever since the tournament began hosting the ATP and WTA tournaments in the same fortnight.

Kvitova was presented with a glass trophy after her 2018 triumph. Made from small, individual translucent plates placed over one another to form a V-shaped structure, the glittering trophy managed to steal the show under the stadium lights.


Edited by Keshav Gopalan
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