Petra Kvitova (L) and Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova are the most successful men’s and women’s singles players at the Madrid Open, one of the biggest claycourt tournaments in both the ATP and WTA calendars.
The tournament has been at the center of attention, having given the sport of tennis’ some of its firsts, including the introduction of blue clay and the most expensive tennis trophy. The evolution of the latter has an interesting back story.
Both Nadal and Kvitova — who share seven Mutua Madrid Open crowns between them — have lifted the iconic “stairway to heaven” trophy on multiple occasions. They have also won the tournament preceding and succeeding the current trophy. We trace the history of 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 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 semifinal. Nadal beat Roger Federer in the final to get his hands on the silver shield trophy 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 home fans.
Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova with the “stairway to heaven” trophy
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 statutte 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 names of tennis legends inscribed around them and 33 diamonds (10.9 carats).
The trophy was commissioned by then tournament director Ion Tiriac—who also lent his name to the trophy for official purpposes—who briefed Iten to come up with a design like no other. Speaking of the staircase design with the names of tennis players, the Swiss designer once said:
“I needed to find a design solution that honored all the tennis greats equally,” Iten said. “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 also gotten her hands on the “stairway to heaven” statutte twice—the inaugural 2011 trophy and again in 2015.
Petra Kvitova with the 2018 glass 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 design, the glittering trophy managed to steal the show under the stadium lights.