A few days ago, I was talking about how much the players hated the surface in Madrid. Well, true, it’s the same every year as the Mutua Madrid Open has about one of the worst surfaces on Tour according to the players. I don’t know how much the problems they face this year have to do with the fact that it’s dyed blue, but I have been able to see how slippery the courts are and it makes me fear more about the safety and health of the players with each passing day.
However, before jumping to the comments of World no 1 Novak Djokovic (he did not mince his words), I must say that one player was particularly enthusiastic about the surface and explained very well why he liked it, and how players constantly have to adapt to the situation.
This player is Argentine Carlos Berlocq.
On his blog, yesterday (Monday), he talked at length about the surface, as he had been questioned a lot about it. Here’s what he wrote:
“I would like to talk a little about the Madrid tournament as there are many who have questioned me on Twitter, on the site, [and] Facebook about the court. I have my opinion and I will try to be as clear as possible.
“I sincerely feel that the people who wanted to make a different tournament succeeded because everybody talks about the colour of the court and if it helps making tennis more popular, it seems fantastic to me. I have a nice feeling about it, being inside a blue clay court seems like something different to me and I enjoy it and I feel lucky to be able to take part in this show, because it seems to me that changing the colour of the clay is exactly that there is more show, so to say.
“I want to clarify something, at the tournament there are courts that are in the main stadium and others that are outside, I am talking about the ones that are outside because I haven’t yet played on the courts that are inside and they told me they are slippery. Further than how the courts are I believe that the colour doesn’t change the sport, every week we tennis players have to adapt to changes in climate, balls, courts, etc. Some courts have more clay and the surface is softer and maybe the ball bounces less, on other courts the surface is harder and there is more clay and perhaps the ball skids more or bounces higher, there are many varieties and it always depends on the climate, the surface, the clay, etc., I’m always talking about clay courts.
“I think that it’s a tournament with distinct conditions, one has to adapt the best possible and play as best one could. The conditions will be the same for both [opponents]. For me, I would classify the Madrid courts, further than the colour, as regular, they have a lot of clay and the ball skids, but there are many people working [on them] and this prevents it a lot. The truth is that for me the courts are important, but it won’t change a result, one has to adapt himself and play with the court there is.
“Like in every tournament, some players will feel better than others, hopefully tomorrow I can feel good and make the difference.”
You can find the original entry in Spanish made by Charly here. The translation has been made by yours truly.
I can only wonder how Charly found the surface on the stadium courts today, as he lost a heartbreaker to Marcel Granollers, 5-7 6-3 5-7. But no matter what, I know he made the best of the situation and tried all he could to try and snatch the W. It just was not to be.
This said, I’m just happy that Berlocq is fully fit again and plays without pain. I’m sure that Rome will be better for him next week.
No more Djoking
World no 1 Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, expressed very clearly how unhappy he was after his match against Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver, a match he won with difficulty, 6-2 2-6 6-3.
Before the tournament, all he said was that he didn’t like how the ATP World Tour took the decision of switching to blue clay in Madrid without consulting or getting the approval of the main actors, the players.
Today, however, after having played a match on the surface, he had a whole other point of view, and I think we can use the understatement that Nole loathes the surface:
“To me that’s not tennis. Either I come out with football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me how to play on this court.”
He went even further a bit later on his Facebook page:
“Today I played my first official match on blue clay and I have to admit I was not very happy. Next time i have to bring skates instead of shoes, it was sooo slippery. Dani played really good match and gave me a lot of trouble. I have to focus on next match now and hopefully It will be better than today.”
Djokovic was not the only one to complain. Argentine Juan Martín del Potro was not very pleased with how slippery the surface was either, nor with how it played. During his first-round match against Florian Mayer, he was heard audibly swearing at the surface. After the match, he who is usually so classy and positive… was not:
“I feel that it’s pretty difficult to run and feel confident, it’s very slippery.”
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the latter being the most critical of the surface, have yet to play on it and will both enter the tournament tomorrow, Federer facing Milos Raonic and Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko. Something tells me that both tennis tenors will join their voices to the choir of protests…