It’s one thing the slide on clay, it’s another to slip. Having watched about three hours of tennis today from the Madrid Tennis Masters Series, it’s clear the players are slipping, and slipping way too much. Almost to the point of danger.
And World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic isn’t pleased.
After a 3-set 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 struggle over Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Djokovic, who’s been critical of the surface, unloaded on the conditions (not the blue color) out on center today.
“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,” said Djokovic to the AP. “Center court is impossible to move on. I hit five balls throughout the whole match. With everything else, I was just trying to keep the ball in the court.”
(Chuck Norris? How did Ion Tiriac miss giving Chuck a spot in the tournament!)
And from seeing the match on TV, I agree. Djokovic didn’t look a like a player who trusted his movements at all on the court. In fact one point into the third set (or was it the second?) the match had to be halted for a further sweep of the slick-ery court after the Serb nearly tumbled.
“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,” he continued. “Not a single player — not woman not man — I didn’t hear anyone say ‘I like blue clay.’”
Tomorrow Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will have a “live go” out on the center. But I wonder given the widespread problems already with the surface and it’s distinct difference from the conditions at the French Open, just how willing the top players will risk.
I’ll have more on tomorrow’s matches and the tournament later. But as of now this publicity stunt is clearly backfiring.
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