Rafael Nadal's outfit for the 2019 clay court season

Rafael Nadal is back on his favorite surface after a break due to a knee injury sustained at Indian Wells. Winner in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros last year, he has a massive amount of points to defend in the upcoming weeks . But he started his clay court season pretty well with an impressive 6-1 6-1 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round of Monte Carlo.
Here’s the outfit Rafa will be wearing in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome:

Rafael Nadal's outfit for the 2019 clay court season

Rafael Nadal's outfit for the 2019 clay court season

Read more:
2019 ATP clay court season guide

Rafael nadal, babolat exhibition, Roland Garros 2018

Good bye hard courts and hello clay! With spring comes the clay court season that leads to the second Grand Slam of the year, Roland Garros.
Although French players have had little success on this surface in recent years, clay was invented in Cannes, south of France … by English players William and Ernest Renshaw.

Grand Prix Hassan II, Marrakech, 8-14 April

Defending champion: Pablo Andujar
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Pablo Carreno Busta, Kyle Edmund, Gilles Simon, Philipp Kohlschreiber

From 1990 to 2015 the tournament was held annually at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca, before relocating to Marrakesh in 2016. It is currently the only ATP event held in Africa. Two Moroccans have won the title on home soil: Hicham Arazi in 1997 and Younes El Aynaoui in 2002. Former champions include Thomas Muster, Gilles Simon, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Stan Wawrinka.
Last year, Pablo Andujar (number 355) became the lowest-ranked ATP champion in 20 years, beating first-time finalist Kyle Edmund to win the Grand Prix Hassan II for a record third time.

2019 champion: Benoît Paire

Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, 14-21 April

Defending champion: Rafael Nadal
Category: 1000
Prize money: €5,585,030
Who is playing: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stan Wawrinka

The first appearance of lawn tennis in the Principality of Monaco was in January 1880, when a court with a covering of lime was laid down on the lawn of the pigeon-shooting range at the rear of the Hotel de Paris. In April 1892 Prince Charles III approved a proposal from Comte Bertora, the administrator of the Société des Bains de Mer, the local authority, for the installation of two permanent clay courts and a croquet lawn.
The first tournament was held in March 1896 and was won by George Hillyard. The following year began the start of the great days of the tournament, supported for a decade by the Doherty brothers.
It changed venue several times but the tournament has always attracted the greatest champions: Nicola Pietrangeli, Ilie Nastase, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander all won here in the past. Rafael Nadal won the title eight consecutive times between 2005 and 2012, making him the first player to win eight titles in a row at the same tournament. Last year, he won the title for the 11th time, dispatching Nishikori 6-3 6-2 in the final.

The first of three Masters 1000 played on clay, the Monte Carlo tournament is a fan favourite thanks to its magnificent location and scenic views on the Mediterranean Sea.

2019 champion: Fabio Fognini

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, 22-28 April

Defending champion: Rafael Nadal
Category: 500
Prize money: €2,746,455
Who is playing: Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini

The Barcelona Open, better known in Spain as Trofeo Conde de Godo or simply Godo has been held at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899 since 1953.
American players won the first five editions of the tournament but only one has won it since: Todd Martin in 1998. All the best clay-court specialists have lift the trophy – that weighs 13 kg! – from Borg to Wilander, Muster to Ferrero. Rafael Nadal has won the singles title a record 11 times. In 2017, the centre court was named “Pista Rafa Nadal”.

The tournament will this year pay tribute to Manuel Orantes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first victory here. The 1969 final that Orantes won over Manolo Santana (6-4 7-5 6-4) is registered as the longest is the history of the competition. It started on May 18, but they could barely play 8 games because of rain. As the next day, both players had to travel to Zagreb to play a Davis Cup tie against Yugoslavia, the decision was made to postpone the match, which would resume 4 months later, on September.

Nadal claims 11th Barcelona title
Stefanos Tsitsipas makes Greek tennis history in Barcelona
Barcelona 2018: the Lopez capture the doubles crown

2019 champion: Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem, new King of Barcelona
Thiem stuns Nadal to reach the Barcelona final
Barcelona 2019: Nadal ends David Ferrer’s run


Gazprom Hungarian Open, Budapest, 22-28 April

Defending champion: Marco Cecchinato
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Borna Coric, Marco Cecchinato, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Laslo Djere, Hubert Hurkacz

In 2017, Budapest replaced the former ATP 250 event in Bucharest, Romania. This is the first ATP event hosted in Hungary.
Lucas Pouille was the winner of the inaugural edition, defeating Aljaz Bedene in the final. In 2018, Marco Cecchinato won his first ATP title in Budapest after reaching the final as a lucky loser, defeating John Millman in straight sets. A few weeks later, he defeated Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic en route to the French Open semifinals.

2019 champion: Matteo Berrettini

Second career title (after Gstaad in 2018) for Matteo Berrettini who rallied from a set down to beat qualifier Filip Krajinovic. With this victory, the Italian will make his entry to the top 40 for the first time.
Number one seed Marin Cilic lost to Pablo Cuevas while number two seed Borna Coric lost to eventual runner-up Krajinovic in the quarterfinals. Number three seed and defending champion Marco Cecchinato withdrew due to illness.

BMW Open by FWU, Munich, 29 April-5 May

Defending champion: Alexander Zverev
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Alexander Zverev, Marco Cecchinato, Kyle Edmund, Diego Schwartzman, Roberto Bautista Agut

The International Tennis Championships of Bavaria was first held in 1900 (on grass), but the BMW Open by FWU was first staged at Munich’s Iphitos Tennis Club in 1974.
Alexander Zverev will try to win for a record third time in a row. Last year he defeated fellow countryman and 3-time champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3.

2019 champion: Christian Garin

Millenium Estoril Open, 29 April-5 May

Defending champion: Joao Sousa
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Kevin Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Fabio Fognini, Gaël Monfils, Alex De Minaur, Frances Tiafoe, Joao Sousa

The Estoril Open was created in 2015 to replace the historic Portugal Open, which was canceled due to lack of sponsorships. The Portugal Open was both an ATP and WTA event. The men’s tournament was created in 1990 and has been won by current or future number 1s Thomas Muster (1995 and 1996), Carlos Moya (2000), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2001), Novak Djokovic (2007), and Roger Federer (2008).
Richard Gasquet was the winner of the first edition of the Estoril Open in 2015. Joao Sousa became the first Portuguese to win the tournament last year. He saved two match points against Pedro Sousa in the first round and defeated Next Gen players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe to claim the title.

Read more:
Estoril Open 2018: Joao Sousa triumphs
Estoril Open 2017: Pablo Carreno Busta defeats Gilles Muller

2019 champion: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas triumphs in Estoril
Estoril Open 2019: Tsitsipas and Goffin will face off in the semifinals
Estoril Open 2019: Tsitsipas and Monfils in. Fognini and Chardy out


Mutua Madrid Open, 5-12 May

Defending champion: Alexander Zverev
Category: 1000
Prize money: €7,279,270
Who is playing: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev

From 2002 to 2008, the Madrid Masters were played on indoor hard courts at the Madrid Arena a couple weeks before Paris Bercy Masters. In 2009 the tournament transitioned from hard court to outdoor clay and replaced the Hamburg Open as the second Masters of the European clay court swing. Since then, the event is held at the Caja Majica which will host the 2019 Davis Cup finals.
In 2012, owner Ion Tiriac decided to swith to blue clay to “improve the experience for television viewers.”
Top players complained about the clay’s slipperiness, Nadal and Djokovic said they would not return to Madrid if the clay remained blue, and the tournament returned to the traditional red clay for the 2013 edition. Despite being played on red clay again, the conditions of play are made more difficult than Rome or Monte Carlo by altitude: Madrid is 650 meters above sea level and balls fly faster through thin air.

Last year, in the quarterfinals, Dominic Thiem ended Nadal’s 21-match and record 50-set winning streak on clay. Thiem had been the last man to take a set and win against Nadal on clay the previous year in Rome. The Austrian went on to reach the final, only to lose to Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

Read more:
Do you really know what clay is made of?

2019 champion: Novak Djokovic

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, 12-19 May

Defending champion: Rafael Nadal
Category: 1000
Prize money: €5,791,280
Who is playing: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev

The Rome tournament, the last big tournament before Roland Garros has a long, rich and controversial history. From 1930 to 1934, the Italian International Championships were held in Milan at the Tennis Club, but dictator Mussolini wanted the event in his capital, Rome, so the tournament moved to the Foro Italico (then called Foro Mussolini) in 1935. The Foro Italico was built form 1928 to 1935 as part of Mussolini’s plan to revive the glory of ancient Rome. He wanted “to create a forum that would surpass those of Caesar and Augustus”. The Foro Italico also contains the 82,000-seat Stadio Olimpico, home of Roma and Lazio football teams. Serie A itself was founded by the Duce, the first leader to use sport as a propaganda tool, even before Hitler.
The Stadium is still haunted by marble incarnations of the fascists human ideal: you can walk across mosaics that spell out “Duce”, a marble obelisk with the words “Mussolini Dux” still stands today, and 4-meter nude statues of sportsmen, from boxers to tennis players surround both the Stadio dei Marni (Foro’s track), the Nicola Pietrangeli court. Weird isn’t it?
The tournament was also filled with controversies in the 70’s, when Italian players (especially Adriano Panatta) received a little help from officials (read more below). But thankfully gone are those days, and a new King of Clay rules in Rome: Rafael Nadal, who recorded an eighth victory last year.
The final was interrupted by rain with Nadal a break down in the third set. But he rallied back to defeat Zverev 6-1 1-6 6-3 and claim his second Masters 1000 of the season. Beaten by Nadal in the semifinals, defending champion Novak Djokovic fell outside the Top 20 for the first time since October 2006.

Read more:
A little help for Adriano Panatta
Italian Open 1978: silenzio cretini!
Adriano Panatta, the Michelangelo of tennis

2019 champion: Rafael Nadal

9th title for Rafa in Rome, a record-breaking 34th Masters 1000 tournament title. He ends his wait for a first title this season, just at the perfect time, one week before he begins an other title defence in Paris. Nadal completes a fine week at Foro Italico, with straight set wins over Chardy, Basilashvili, Verdasco and Tsitsipas, and a 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over Djokovic in the final.
Nadal was just too good for Djokovic, exhausted by his marathon matches against Del Potro and Schwartzman.

Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, 19-25 May

Defending champion: Marton Fucsovics
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Benoît Paire, Jaume Munar

The Geneva Open is staged at the Tennis Club de Genève, the oldest and largest club in Switzerland, founded in 1896.
The tournament, held annually from 1980 to 1991, crowned 3 world number 1s: Bjorn Borg (1981), Mats Wilander (1982 and 1983), and Thomas Muster (1991), as well as 2 Swiss players, Claudio Mezzadri in 1987 and Marc Rosset in 1989. In 2015, after a 24-year hiatus, Thomaz Bellucci captured the title, followed by home crowd favorite Stan Wawrinka in 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, 38 years after the success of Balazs Taroczy during the first edition of tournament, a Hungarian player has once again lift the trophy. Marton Fucsovics, winner of Wawrinka in the semifinals, claimed his first ATP title with a 6-2 6-2 win over Peter Gojowczyk. The German beat Karlovic, Ferrer, Fognini and Seppi en route to his second final of the year (loss to Tiafoe in Delray Beach).

Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon, 19-25 May

Defending champion: Dominic Thiem
Category: 250
Prize money: €586,140
Who is playing: Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych

From 1987 to 2009 Lyon held an indoor hard court tournament, traditionally played a few weeks before Paris Bercy. Yannick Noah won the inaugural edition, beating Joakim Nyström in the final. Other past champions include John McEnroe, Pete Sampras (3 times), Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Andy Roddick. The event moved to Montpellier in 2010 and is now known as the Open Sud de France.
In 2017, the Open de Lyon returned to the ATP Tour calendar as a clay-court tournament, replacing the Open de Nice. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga captured the title, his 15th career title, his first ever on clay. Dominic Thiem was crowned last year after a hard fought 3-set victory over Gilles Simon in the final. Two weeks later he went on to reach his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal).

Roland Garros, Paris, 26 May-9 June

Defending champion: Rafael Nadal
Category: Grand Slam
Prize money: €
Who is playing: everyone except Sharapova, Auger-Aliassime, Kyrgios, Raonic, Berdych

Stay tuned for more Roland Garros coverage, and in the mean time, check out our Roland Garros FAQs and our tips for your day at Roland Garros.

Who will win Roland Garros 2019?

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Pictures:
1: pic taken by Tennis Buzz at the Babolat event at Roland Garros last year.
2: Banco Sabadell
3: MJN

If you’re interested in history of tennis, I recommend you the read of two books:
– Love game: a history of tennis, from victorian pastime to global phenomenon by Elizabeth Wilson
– The golden days of tennis on the French riviera 1874-1939 by Alan Little

Nadal, Madrid 2014


The ITF announced last summer a very controversial reform of the Davis Cup. Here’s all you need to know about the new format of the competition and how to buy tickets.

The competition

18 teams will take part to the Davis Cup finals from 18 to 24 November:
– last year’s 4 semi-finalists: Croatia, France, Spain and USA
– 2 wild cards: Great Britain and Argentina
– 12 winners of the qualifiers held in February

The 18 teams will compete in a group stage of six groups of three teams. The six group winners plus the two second-best teams with the best records based on sets won or games won will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Group A: France, Serbia, Japan
Group B: Croatia, Spain, Russia
Group C: Argentina, Germany, Chile
Group D: Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Group E: Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands
Group F: USA, Italy, Canada

The draw for the quarter-finals was also made:
1. Winner Group A vs Runner-up 1 or 2
2. Winner Group D vs Winner Group F
3. Winner Group E vs Winner Group C
4. Winner Group B vs Runner-up 1 or 2

The two teams with the worst record after the group stage phase of the finals will be relegated to Zone Group action the following year. The 12 teams that finish in 5th to 16th position will compete in the qualifiers next year.

Ties contested at the finals will consist of two singles matches and one doubles match, all played on one day, in the best of three sets. Matches will be played on hard courts.

The venue

Madrid Open Center Court - Caja Magica with retractable roof

The finals will be held at the Caja Mágica, home of the Madrid Masters since 2009. Made completely from iron, wood and glass, it was designed by French architect Dominique Perrault. The name Caja Mágica (Magic box) is due to the resemblance of the sports center with actual boxes, which are dynamic and ever changing.
It houses three tennis courts with retractable roofs. The main court, called Manolo Santana, can host 12.500 viewers. Courts 2 – Arantxa Sanchez Vicario stadium – and 3 are equipped with 3.500 and 2.500 seats respectively.

The tickets

Tickets will be on sale from April 9 on daviscupfinals.com. Ticket Box at the venue will open on November 14.

When purchasing an individual ticket, spectators will be able to see one whole tie between two nations, on the chosen court (2 singles and one doubles).

Tickets for the Group stage, played from 18 to 21 November, vary between €25 and €60. Prices vary between €40 and €95 for the quarter-finals, €50 and €120 for the semi-finals and €60 and €150 for the final.

Children between the ages of 0 and 5 do not need to pay a ticket to access the venue, but will need to sit on their parent’s lap. Children between the ages of 6 and 8 will have a special price, as will children between the ages of 9 and 12.

Photo credit: davijeans, JC

Nadal, Barcelone 2017

Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev on the men’s side, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kristina Mladenovic on the women’s side have dominated the clay court season; while world number ones Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber appeared in big trouble. Here’s our recap of who won what.

Men

Marrakech: Borna Coric

Runner-up in Marrakech last year, Borna Coric came back from the brink, saved 5 match points to overcome Philip Kohlschreiber and capture his maiden ATP title.

Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal

Rafa‘s reign in Monte Carlo continues: he defeated fellow Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas, who stunned Andy Murray en route to his maiden Masters 1000 final. With that victory, Nadal became the first man in the Open Era to win 10 titles at a tournament, and the first to win 50 clay-court titless, surpassing Guillermo Vilas (49).


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Dominic Thiem, Madrid 2017

After his finals in Barcelone and Madrid, Dominic Thiem appears as a serious Roland Garros contender. How far do you think he can go on the French clay courts?

Dominic Thiem.

Dominic Thiem.

Dominic Thiem.

Dominic Thiem.
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