A few days ago we talked about the blue clay at Madrid Open that will take place from 04th-13th May 2012.
The purpose of the organizers is to improve the quality of the tennis experience for the television audience and give this tournament a unique personality to stand out in the circuit, which makes sense from the point of view of the marketing. However, such an innovative decision has raised some criticism from different players.
The main complaints seem to be about the lack of consultation with the players, the timing (right in the middle of the clay court season) and the lack of experience on this new surface (although the surface is still clay, the change of the natural color might have some effect on the speed and reaction of the ball).
Rafa Nadal was disappointed from the very beginning. He expressed his objections last November, when he said he considers the change of color “a lack of respect for tradition and the history of this area” (TennisEarth.com).
After Nadal’s victory over Novak Djokovic last Sunday in Monte Carlo, he spoke again about Madrid:
“Madrid is the only tournament you are playing with high altitude, and then now you are putting a different colour of clay. There can’t be too much difference between Madrid and Rome.”
(Source: Times of India)
Novak Djokovic, world’s #1, agrees with the Spaniard:
“To be honest with you, as far as I know, most of the top players I talked to, nobody agreed on that. I never played on blue clay. Rafa didn’t. Roger didn’t. We’re going on there and we’re going to play for the first time ever. We don’t even know if it’s a natural blue clay because natural clay is a red clay. So we will find out really. I’m not really too happy about it, you know what I mean? It’s going to be interesting to step on the blue clay obviously. All the credit to the tournament. I’m not blaming them. They fight for their own. But definitely there is a certain rule within ATP that the president is able to make decision by himself without having players agree to that”.
Same about Roger Federer:
“This is a long story, but I find it sad that you have to play on a surface the players don’t accept. I find it sad that a player like Rafa, at a tournament in his own country, has had to fight against a surface that does not want to play on.”
The last players to speak publicly about the issue have been Australian WTA’s #5 Sam Stosur:
“I can’t say I’m that excited or pleased about playing on the blue clay in Madrid, no. I don’t think it’s a good idea changing the colour of the dirt. The dirt is brown, not blue. I’ve spoken to a few of the girls about it and I can’t say that any of the players are that ecstatic about the blue. I don’t see the point of changing the colour to blue at one of the most important tournaments before the French Open, and I don’t want blue all over my clothes”.
And Andy Murray:
“For the players, it would be better for it to be on the red clay. But at the same time, I’ve watched sometimes in Madrid. It’s very difficult to see the ball. I understand the reasons for doing it. It makes the tournament unique and a bit different. Sometimes that’s good for the tour. But the timing of it is what makes it difficult for the players.
Do you think the players complaints are reasonable? Should they just give the blue clay a chance and see what happens after the tournament?
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