Nadal blasts blue clay

2012-05-04 15:55
Rafael Nadal (Gallo Images)

Madrid - Players will step onto the untried blue clay courts of the Madrid Masters from Sunday, with serious doubts and some hostility as preparations for the French Open are fine-tuned.

King of clay Rafael Nadal, who set records in his last two tournaments with an eighth straight trophy at Monte Carlo and a seventh from eight appearances in Barcelona, has been among the most outraged in the Spanish capital.

After training on the courts which are the marketing brainchild of the tournament's billionaire impresario Ion Tiriac, Nadal was even more upset than he had been before trying them out at the Caja Magica complex in the south of Madrid.

The world number two blamed the ATP for accepting the never-before-seen clay colour as the event prepared to get under way.

"I trained on it yesterday (Thursday) afternoon and I think it's a mistake -- not by the organisation but by the ATP," said the irate Spaniard on Friday at a sponsor event.

Nadal also told Spanish media: "Madrid is one of the best tournaments in the world and does not need this. It is played at altitude. That makes it different already. I appreciate the idea but it should have never been allowed."

The controversial change was approved last year by outgoing ATP president Adam Helfant, who did not renew his contract after three years in the job.

The tournament leads into the Rome Masters starting May 14, which is the last major event before Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic, the world number one, won both titles a year ago at the expense of Nadal.

The Serb will take the top seeding ahead of Nadal and third seed Roger Federer, with Britain's Andy Murray on fourth and looking to bounce back after a quarter final defeat to Canada's Milos Raonic in Barcelona last week.

Djokovic has joined in with lesser criticism but much scepticism about the blue courts, while Federer, who is ATP Player Council president and usually a hard-core traditionalist, is taking a fine line as to his opinion.

"I find it sad to play on a surface the players don't accept," said the Swiss. "It's said 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 men's draw will be missing veteran Americans Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, with both withdrawing. Roddick has a right hamstring problem while Fish says he has been dealing with an unspecified health threat for six weeks.

The women's field is headed by top seed Victoria Azarenka and number two Maria Sharapova. Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, the holder, takes third.

Sharapova won the Stuttgart clay event last week over Azarenka after losing two major finals to the Belarus player this season.

There does not seem to be as much despair among the women about the new clay. "It's a little different, the blue is unique," said Sharapova. "Obviously that's what the tournament wants. To be unique, different. It's pretty cool."

Read more on:    madrid masters  |  rafael nadal  |  tennis

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

SuperBru Super Rugby challenge

Enter and challenge Sport24's staff!


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.