Life, one Experience At A Time: How to plan your first tennis tournament – MUTUA Madrid OPEN

In 2019 I discovered Nadal. The story of it is here.

The story’s punchline is that even if I have lost some champions (Senna, Pele, Prince), others I can still watch live in my lifetime, giving lessons every time they step on a field. And always, always fight like there is no tomorrow and no yesterday.

In 2022, after watching Nadal for three years winning and losing and still stronger every time, we decided it was time to be there to see him compete.

And we decided MUTUA Madrid is the best place because the tournament celebrated its 20th edition in 2022 and as Nadal won 5 times there, he was one of the house guests. A sure thing, yes, but also we had a scare, as Nadal was injured and skipped a few tournaments, including Barcelona, before Madrid.

And this is just one of the things you have to consider when preparing. Here are the rest of the things you need to know:

How to get ready for your first tennis tournament –

our experience at MUTUA Madrid OPEN

Getting ready for your first tennis tournament:

Some things to take into consideration before buying tickets, especially if you have a favorite player:

  • check his/her schedule in the previous years and the phase they played in (round if 32, last 16, 8, semifinals etc.)
  • don’t be over-optimistic and get tickets to the finals only, even if the player is a known champion there. You never know, they are still humans.
  • make sure you watch your favorite player on the surface he/she loves. Nadal on clay is something out of this world, especially in person.
  • it’s a myth that the higher-ranked players only play in the evening, so don’t rely on it.

We purchased the tickets in January for May. We got the Estrellas Abono, a combined ticket allowing for entrance at the day and night sessions, on 3 courts (the main and the third) and all the practice courts, for 2 days. It was a safe bet that Nadal, Djokovic and Halep will play on the main. But sadly we missed Murray, another favorite of mine.

  • buying tickets for at least 2 days allow you the certainty the schedule will put your favorite in at least 1 of the 2 days. Again, study the tournament from last year and see the scheduling, when and where a player was scheduled.
  • also, buying tickets at both the Days sessions and the Evening ones offers the same certainty. Simona Halep, the Romanian player we also rooted for, played in a day session.
  • ALWAYS buy tickets from authorized sellers or the tournament page directly. Also, check the viewing availability (use the “map view” of individual seats to get an impression of what the view looks like). Tickets are nominal, so you will not be able to sell them.

The price was ok for the places we got, just behind the players and to the right. Deciding on the best place was a process of research to get to that option, and I can only recommend what I researched.

Stay a little higher, where the main TV camera is situated (what people see on TV) and see one player from the back and his/her opponent from the front.

When choosing a seat at your first tennis tournament, think about this:

  • is the seat covered?
  • will there be sun or rain?
  • is the stadium uncovered and does it have a retractable roof?

All of the above matter in your comfort and the possibility of a game being canceled because of the weather.

Inside your first tennis tournament: how to dress, what to bring, what to do, what to know.

  • To enter the tournament you must pass through a security check at arrival. If you have a day ticket, after it is finished you have to leave the stadium.
  • Don’t bring food and please uncap your bottles to save time at the entry.
  • Dress casually, but decent. You can find caps and hats inside if you want something to remember the tournament. Also, the vendors inside have all sorts of offers, from games to play to small giveaways. Wear something longer, as you will have to maybe climb over seats and feet to get to your place.
  • As at the cinema or theatre, when you pass someone on your row, do it facing them, not turning your ass at them : )
  • You can bring flags and other homemade messages on paper or cloth.
What to know about the schedule:
  • The schedule for the day is published just the night before and sometimes late into the night. So you will know when your favorite plays hours before he/she does. I recommend being ready in the morning.
  • Every entry into an arena for a match means someone will scan your ticket. The same with every exit from a court.
  • Ushers help you find your place in the arena.
  • The women’s and men’s matches are scheduled one and one.
  • Don’t expect the matches to start as predicted by the schedule, because just after one intense match all the day can be thrown off order.
  • If you are late for the start of a match, the gates into the court will open after 3 games.
  • If you go outside and want to come back in, the gates open every 2 games. Be quick.
  • The pause between sets is longer.
  • Even before the games, make sure to go to the practice area, because all the players train in the days when they don’t play and even on that day, so you can get pics like these and even opportunities for an autograph.

Thoughts and Fun facts.

Explore the arena and the practice courts all day. Get involved in the games and events offered by the organizers and sponsors. Make friends.

It was such a joy to root along thousand of people, to dance on breaks and be charged in the deuces. Like any sports event, the atmosphere is half the spirit. The other half, in tennis, is the intensity of the hits. I never expected it. It’s the same in Formula 1: you anticipate the speed, but it still feels incredible watched in person.

Fun fact> Even players can forget when the court side changes. The umpire had to remember Nadal to change sides to wait for the new serve. 🙂

Fun fact> The players talk to their boxes, with the family and coach. It’s just that the coach can’t say anything to…coach them. And the players are most definitely used to have reactions towards the camera, so you can see this at TV.

Not so fun fact>With all the Covid in the world, the rules will bend a lot on these events, so take care of yourself.

Interesting fact> There are more kids (and infants) at a tennis tournament than I imagined and the crying may cause trouble for the players. But in the end, just come and make sure you stand near an exit. that way, if the little one starts crying, you can get out quickly.

A video from our first tennis tournament

Thank you for reading and let us know if other rules, tips&tricks should be taken into account too.

Happy moments, The GALs, Catalina&Florin

More pics and travel tips on my Instagram – click here.

”We’re a couple in love with travel and research. We hope to give you some good tips from experience so that you can have the best of times.”

Decide on a trip to MUTUA Madrid OPEN>TICKETS

  • What I recommend as a must-have is a chic hat: Try this.
  • Also the book that inspired us: Rafa

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Life, one Experience At A Time: How to plan your first tennis tournament – MUTUA Madrid OPEN

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