Nadal feeling blue over Madrid clay
Originally published on: 02/05/12 00:00
Rafael Nadal will compete in next week’s Madrid Masters 1000 event, but the world No 2 is not hiding his disapproval of the decision to play the tournament on blue clay. Nadal believes the switch to a different coloured surface will disrupt players’ preparations as they build towards the climax of the clay-court campaign at the French Open
“You are in the middle of the clay-court season – and the clay here in Europe is red,” Nadal said. “You have back_ѥto_ѥback tournaments in Madrid and Rome. Madrid is the only tournament you are playing at high altitude and now you are also putting in a different colour of clay.”
The Madrid organisers insist that a blue court will help both players and spectators to see the ball more clearly, but critics see it simply as a publicity stunt. “Madrid is big enough not to need this promotion for the tournament,” Nadal said. “The tournament is one of the best of the world. The history of the clay-court season was on red. It wasn't on blue. You can tell me that I am traditional, but I am not. I love all improvements.”
Players were given the chance to practise on a blue court in Madrid last year, but Nadal said he did not want to. “I’m going to play Madrid for many reasons,” he said. “It's my country. It's one of my favorite tournaments of the world. I play at home. I play in Madrid. I play in front of my crowd. I love the tournament. But the decision, in my opinion, is not great.”
Nadal, who is unbeaten in the current clay-court season after his successes in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, has won the title in Madrid only twice in nine appearances. The first was seven years ago, when it was an indoor hard-court event played in October. Since the tournament switched to clay in 2009 Nadal has never failed to reach the final but has won it only once, when he beat Roger Federer two years ago.