Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have completed the Madrid-Rome double
Only four players, man or woman, have won the Madrid-Rome double. This includes Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Dinara Safina.
There are three instances in the ATP and WTA calendar where events offering 1000 ranking points occur in back-to-back weeks. First, we have the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells + Miami), next we have the European claycourt double (Madrid + Rome) and third is the North American double (Canada + Cincinnati).
As we near the conclusion of the Madrid-Rome double, it would be interesting to see the list of players who have managed to win this elusive pair. Initially, the Madrid Open was held at the tail-end of the season on hardcourt.
Since 2009, the WTA has scheduled the Madrid Open in succession with the Italian Open. Before 2009, only two players had managed to win both the events in the same calendar year – Andre Agassi (2002) and Rafael Nadal (2005).
In 2009, the ATP tour saw the Madrid and Rome events separated by one week. However, such was not the case on the WTA tour, which featured in both events in successive weeks. The following year, Rafael Nadal won both the Madrid and Rome titles.
Starting in 2011, the ATP scheduled the Madrid-Rome event for successive weeks as well.
Dinara Safina – 2009
2009 was a season where Dinara Safina secured the No. 1 spot in the rankings for 26 weeks. Apart from being a two-time slam finalist, Safina became the first player, man or woman, to win the Madrid-Rome double held in successive weeks. After finishing as the runner-up at the Australian Open, Safina lost 3 of her next 7 matches.
She began her clay court season with a runner-up finish at Stuttgart. Safina’s opponent in the final was Svetlana Kuznetsova, who would face her yet again in the finals in Rome. Safina won the Rome title, defeating Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals and the finals.
At Madrid, Safina defeated Li Na in the first round and dropped only one set on her way to the finals. She then faced ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki, who managed to win only six games in the final. For the rest of the season, Safina won the title at Portoroz and finished as a finalist at Roland Garros and Cincinnati. She even reached the semifinals at Wimbledon. However, Safina’s 2009 season ended with only three wins in her last eight matches. Serena Williams thus claimed the top spot in the rankings at the end of the season.
Novak Djokovic – 2011
2011 was one of the best seasons for Novak Djokovic. He won 10 of the 11 finals he reached that year. Djokovic was undefeated in the first seven tournaments he entered that season – the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome. At both the Madrid and Rome Masters, Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
This was the first instance when Madrid and Rome were held in back-to-back weeks on the ATP tour. Djokovic thus became the first player to achieve the Madrid-Rome double.
Djokovic’s winning streak came to a halt with a semifinal defeat to Roger Federer at the French Open. But the Serb would roar his way back to win the title at Wimbledon.
Having won the Sunshine Double and the European claycourt double, Djokovic came eerily close to becoming the first person ever to win all three Masters doubles that year. However, at the Cincinnati Masters, he had to retire mid-match in his final against Andy Murray. Djokovic also claimed the final Slam of the season at the US Open.
Rafael Nadal – 2013
Rafael Nadal had already won the Madrid and Rome titles in the same calendar year, held on two different surfaces (2005). He won both these titles yet again when they were held on the same turf, but separated by a week’s gap (2010). In 2013,Rafael Nadal became the second man after Djokovic to win it in successive weeks. At Madrid, he defeated Stan Wawrinka in the finals in straight sets.
Later in Rome, he defeated Wawrinka’s compatriot, Federer, in straight sets in the final. The following week, Rafael Nadal would defeat Wawrinka, Djokovic and Ferrer in consecutive matches to win the Roland Garros title. Rafael Nadal thus ended a stellar claycourt season, winning Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and the French Open in successive weeks.
The Spaniard even won the North American Masters double and backed it up with a US Open title. Earlier that season, Rafael Nadal won the Indian Wells Masters as well, but skipped the Miami Masters. The now 21-time slam champion accumulated 13,030 points that season and finished the year as the No. 1 player.
Serena Williams – 2013
In 2013, Serena Williams became the second WTA player to complete the Madrid-Rome double. She entered 16 tournaments that year and lost only five matches in the entire season. She entered Madrid, having won titles in Miami and Charleston.
In consecutive weeks at Madrid and Rome, Williams lost only one set. She defeated Maria Sharapova in the finals in Madrid and won against Victoria Azarenka in the Rome finals. Out of the ten sets she won in Rome, three of her sets were won as 6-0 and two as 6-1. Following her win at the year-ending championships, the American replaced Azarenka as the No.1 player.
Since 2013, no man or woman has won the Madrid-Rome double. After winning the 2022 Madrid Masters title, Carlos Alcaraz withdrew from the Rome Masters. On the women’s side, 2022 Madrid winner Ons Jabeur is currently in the semifinals of the Italian Open and is playing Daria Kasatkina. A win would pit her against Iga Swiatek, who is on a 27 match win streak, in the final.