Come April and the tennis action shifts to the clay courts of Europe. Starting from the Monte-Carlo Masters in April till the finals of the French Open in early June, the top men and women tennis players of the world will test their baseline game (and their patience!) against the demands of this slow and grinding surface. If the prospect of enjoying the European summer while watching some top-notch tennis was not compelling enough an argument for you, consider the sheer variety of venues where this phase of the tennis season will unfold. From Estoril and Madrid in the West, to Istanbul and Bucharest in the East, from the Mediterranean cities of Monte-Carlo and Rome to Cologne and Munich in the North, there is something for everyone. After reviewing the major events in the first half of the European clay court season in our last post, we now take a look at the major stops in the second half of the tour.
Mutua Madrid Open
Dates: 29 April 2016 to 8 May 2016
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Event History: The Mutua Madrid Open was first held in 2002. In 2009 this ATP World Tour 1000 event transitioned from hard courts to clay courts. The event has been dominated over the last decade by the big-four of tennis with Nadal taking in his fourth trophy here in 2014.
Why You Should Attend: The capital and the largest city of Spain, Madrid is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. One of the richest culinary capitals of Europe, Madrid has everything from an amazing art legacy to a crazy nightlife. If watching the biggest names in tennis playing at the Mutua Madrid Open in this amazing city was not thrilling enough, do sneak a peek at the audience; Real Madrid players regularly attend matches and a certain CR7 has been seen quite often courtside!
Internazionali BNL d’Italia
Dates: 8 May 2016 to 15 May 2016
Venue: Rome, Italy
Event History: The Italian Open, officially called the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, is arguably the most prestigious red clay tennis tournament in the world after the French Open. The history of the event can be traced back to the 1930s and it is today an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the ATP (men’s) tour and a Premier 5 event on the WTA (women’s) tour. The Italian Open has been thoroughly dominated by Nadal in the last 10 years with the great Spaniard having won seven titles in this period with Djokovic having taken the other three. The women’s title has not seen that kind of supremacy since Conchita Martinez in the 90s though Maria Sharapova and Serena Willams have evenly split the last four titles here.
Why You Should Attend: Italy’s capital and largest city, Rome’s legacy of history and art is quite unparalleled. Combine this with the city’s culture of fine food, great wine and fabulous fashion and you can see why it is a tourist favorite. The Internazionali BNL d’Italia is able to capture all these elements of the city and more making it one of the most anticipated stops on the ATP and WTA tours.
Open de Nice Côte d’Azur
Dates: 15 May 2016 to 21 May 2016
Venue: Nice, France
Event History: The ATP Nice Open, known as Open de Nice Côte d’Azur in French, was part of the Grand Prix tennis circuit from 1971 through the mid-90’s. This ATP World Tour Masters 250 event returned to the tennis calendar in 2010. While past winners here include tennis greats like Ilie Nastase and Bjorn Borg, the Nice Open in its latest avatar has been dominated by the Spanish clay-court Armada.
Why You Should Attend: The French Rivera has it all – 300 days of sunshine, brilliant blue waters of the Mediterranean and a surfeit of world-class restaurants and resorts. You are also welcome to stay in the neighborhood an extra day and catch some action at the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious motor racing events in the world. So make a trip down to Nice and add some glamour to your tennis watching experience this summer in Europe!
Dates: 15 May 2016 to 21 May 2016
Venue: Geneva, Switzerland
Event History: The Geneva Open returns to the men’s circuit as an ATP World Tour Masters 250 event in 2015. The event which had been held annually in Geneva from 1980 to 1991 will be staged at the Tennis Club de Genève at the Parc des Eaux-Vives, the oldest and largest tennis club in Switzerland. Previous Geneva Open winners include clay court stalwarts like Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Thomas Muster.
Why You Should Attend: While Geneva is only Switzerland’s third-largest city it occupies a much larger footprint in world affairs with more than a hundred government and international bodies headquartered here. Blessed with an amazing natural setting, Geneva is on the shores of Europe’s largest Alpine lake and visitors can see stunning views of the snowcapped Mont Blanc and the city’s landmark, the Jet d’Eau. Geneva is undoubtedly Switzerland’s gourmet capital as well as a major cultural hub of the country. Combine all this and add some top-notch tennis action and you are set for a memorable tennis vacation!
Dates: 22 May 2016 to 5 June 2016
Venue: Paris, France
Event History: Started in 1891, the French Open (officially: Les internationaux de France de Tennis, Roland Garros) is the third oldest tennis grand slam after Wimbledon and the US Open. It is the most prestigious clay court tournament in the world being the only tennis major played on that surface. The terre battue (French for beaten earth) that makes up the courts of Roland Garros has been witness to some of the most epic matches in tennis history with the red clay always forcing players to fight for every point.
Why You Should Attend: Nadal will go for his la decima – an incredible 10th French Open title in 2015, reason enough for tennis aficionados to make the pilgrimage to Roland Garros. Also there’s the small matter of how magical Paris is during summers. The ultimate tourist city and the greatest clay court tournament. Enough said.
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