Novak Djokovic is no different from Rafael Nadal when it comes to his hate for the new Blue Clay, nicknamed ‘Smurf Turf’ at the Madrid Open. The change the organizers made in order to help TV viewers with identifying the ball has clearly not been taken well by the players, who have blasted the decision in every opportunity they got.
Rafael Nadal, not a great fan of the organizers in Madrid for other reasons as well, already talked about his lack of love for the transformation from traditional clay to the new Blue surface even before playing his first match on it, claiming it was slippery and gave the ball an awkward bounce.
Djokovic did struggle in his opening match against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, needing three sets to beat the player ranked 137 in the world – 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Remember, Nadal doesn’t like playing in Madrid since it has been moved outdoors because he feels the tournament doesn’t compliment his style, giving others and advantage over him. Complaints do come out easily when things aren’t going in your way. Just to keep in mind.
But it’s not just about playing badly. The blue surface appears to lack certain characteristics the usual clay has, especially regarding sliding. It is much more slippery than the usual surface, making it more likely to cause injuries to the players. And when it comes to safety and not just the quality of their games, stars tend to be quite vocal and angry regarding the matter.
I hit five balls throughout the whole match. Everything else I was just trying to put the ball in the court so I just rely on my serve and getting some points eventually from his unforced errors. For me that’s not tennis. Either I come up with the football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me on how I should play on this court.
When you slide on the red clay you have a feeling you can stop and recover from that step. But here, whatever you do, you are always slipping. I know for certain that there are so many players that I talked to these last three or four days that share the same opinion. I take things very seriously regarding the surfaces and regarding our circuit.
I think all the players’ opinions have to be heard and have to be considered. This tournament and this decision to change to the blue clay is an example of players not being considered and heard and their opinions being ignored so I really hope that this is going to change in the future. I haven’t heard a single player, not man or woman, saying they like blue clay.
But while the world’s leading players have sounded off against the new Blue Clay, quite a few said the only difference was the visual aspect which probably has some effect on the mental side of the game. For them, it’s about getting used to the new setting instead of actually feeling different reactions from the surface while playing on it.