Simona Halep, Rafael Nadal praise Madrid crowd presence

Simona Halep, Rafael Nadal praise Madrid crowd presence

The top seeds returning to the Caja Mágica eagerly await the opportunity to play in front of one of the biggest crowds of the season as the Mutua Madrid Open will allow up to 4,800 spectators on site.

The Mutua Madrid Open will have some of the biggest crowds at any event so far this season, and players are looking forward to it.

The joint ATP and WTA event is allowed to have 40 percent of its usual capacity, or 4,800 spectators each day. That's a lot more than even the ATP event in Barcelona the week before, which was allowed 1,000 spectators. Most events this season have been played with few or no spectators.

The crowd favorite in Madrid will be Spain's Rafael Nadal, who won a 12th Barcelona title and is the top seed.

"It is another opportunity for me to play another big event on clay at home with some crowds. That makes big difference. So excited. Excited about that," Nadal said, noting that it has the biggest impact for big names used to playing in front of full stands.

Another former Madrid champ, Simona Halep, says it ultimately helps the whole field.

Rafael Nadal will likely draw the maximum of Madrid's reduced crowd capacity (Getty Images).

"It's very important for everybody, I think, not just for me, to feel the energy, to feel the people. The atmosphere was really good even if it's not packed. We have many fans, and it's really nice," she said.

Another player who could get a boost is Denis Shapovalov, who understands why tournaments have had to shut their doors but whose free-swinging game also tends to draw a crowd.

"It's definitely much more fun to be on the court, and it does feel like a tournament environment when you're playing in front of people, in front of fans. I always say we're showmen, so we're able to put on a show again this week in front of a live audience, I mean, and for sure it's something special and something just super positive," he said.

It's a positive sign for events on tour, adds Maria Sakkari.

"It's great to have some people back. Even though it's not a packed court, at least you feel like we are slowly getting back," she said.

The Caja Mágica, where the event is played, has three show courts.