Cheryl Murray

  • Novak Djokovic takes up skating at the Madrid ice rink

    2012-05-09 14:58:07

    I’m not usually one to single out a tournament for a scathing blog, because the way I see it, most of them do the best they can. The US Open, for example, has been an administrative disaster for years and their vain attempts to make players play in the rain with water seeping up from UNDERNEATH the courts is absurd to the point of being nearly amusing. But I recognize that the US Open is held in New York City during hurricane season. And so I give a little eye-roll and chalk it up to extraordinarily bad luck and slight foolishness on the part of the USTA for not figuring out a roof solution for the EPICALLY bad Arthur Ashe Stadium.

    I’m just nice like that.

    But I cannot in good conscience ignore the condition of the “courts” in Madrid this week. Actually, if I’m being completely honest about it, I’m furious. I watched defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic slide around the baseline in his opening match as though the grounds crew were spraying oil on the court instead of water. I can think of at least a half a dozen instances where Nole literally looked like one of those little cartoon guys, with his legs going really fast, but with no actually lateral movement occurring (you know, like in Tom and Jerry, when Jerry tries to run away from Tom, not realizing that he’s being held by his tail).

    Visions of Julien Benneteau and his horrific fall in Monte Carlo flashed before my eyes. Thankfully, the only thing that happened to Nole was a bunch of sliding around and an abysmal second set of tennis. But it brings up the larger question of WHY. Why are the courts like that? Why hasn’t the ATP done something about it? Why are the tournament officials spending extra money on idiotic publicity stunts like dyeing the clay blue when the courts themselves are in such obvious need of attention?

    I know that the court conditions in Madrid have never been good. From the first year it debuted as a clay tournament, there have been problems. Holes in the court itself, a grounds crew that allows the surface to go from severely under-water to badly over-watered. So I don’t know if the blue dye is making the clay more slippery than it would normally have been (though I should point out that Djokovic specifically blamed the color in his post-match presser) or whether it’s incompetence. Perhaps both, which is a positively dismal commentary on the state of the tournament.

    TWICE on Tuesday, the chair umpire was forced to STOP PLAY and make the grounds crew come back out after a changeover and rake the court because they over-watered it and made it muddy (or whatever you call really wet clay. Soupy? Mucky?).

    I know I am jeopardizing any future chances I might have to attend the Madrid Masters, but this is UNACCEPTABLE. The first priority must ALWAYS be the safety of the players. And in this case, player safety doesn’t appear to have even made the top 5 – and it certainly ranks lower than the egos of the people in charge.

    The ATP seems to have rules for every blasted thing under the sun. Why don’t they have (or enforce) regulations for court conditions? Where are the ATP sanctions? At the very least, the Madrid organizers should face fines for their decisions. But you know, I think I’d be happier to see the tournament yanked. Send it back to Hamburg. Sure, the weather was lousy there, but I’d rather see the players trudge their way through excruciatingly slow and heavy conditions than worry that somebody is going to shred a ligament.

    Nole said that in order to play properly on the courts, he needs to break out his football cleats or ask Chuck Norris (LOL!) for advice. He is clearly incensed. And now that I think on it, the tennis community as a whole owes Rafael Nadal a big apology. The poor guy has taken all kinds of abuse for what was called “bitter complaining” about the blue clay. Turns out, he was right. If anything, he underestimated the scope of the problem.

    This is a REQUIRED tournament. If a player chooses to opt out, he gets hit with a penalty from the ATP. I don’t say this very often but it simply isn’t fair. Somebody MUST take the situation in hand.

Tell a friend »


Thank you Cheryl for having the "cojones" to say sorry to Rafa for all the abuse he has taken for his correct criticism of the conditions of the Madrid courts. You did not have to apologise because you have NOT criticised Rafa, at least to my knowledge. Strangely, Bodo, one of the more vociferous critics of Rafa's displeasure is very quiett these days...............Like I said, it takes cojones to say sorry.

Thank you Rafa for standing up on principle and for player safety while the President of the Player Council is of course quietly massaging his cojones on the fence..........

Thank you Novak for finally coming out very strongly against this travesty after your first round match.........

I feel so sorry for Manolo Santana, a distinguished player allowing his reputation to be sullied by this association with that vampire, Tiriac.

rafaisthebest , 5/9/12 3:15 PM

I add my thanks to those of ritb Cheryl. You have summed up the situation in its entirety.

ritb - agree wholeheartedly with your post as well.

schatz , 5/9/12 3:48 PM

Thank you Cheryl!

I wholeheartedly agree with this article and the two posts above.

This is one of those cases that screams for public figures (Novak, Rafa) to call things out clearly and strongly, and for journalists (Cheryl) and commies (who?) to do the same.

In my neck of the woods we call that courageous communication. Go to the authorities and tell them as clearly as you can about a major problem, and early if you can before it becomes a disaster. Witness the infamous Korean airplane that was about to take off on the wrong runway - a runway packed with equipment - rather than the right one parallel to it. The assistant pilot tried several times to tell the pilot, in a tentative vague way as dictated by their culture, but the pilot did not get the message and would not defer to someone of a lower rank. Every (almost?) on that plane died in that avoidable disaster take-off. If you have read Outliers you have read this story.

I have to say that after this week and last I have lost even more respect for various commies and journalists, not to mention those who made this blue clay decision/ did not bother improving the conditions, blue clay or not.

I have been called out on this site for applauding courageous communication and for calling out the opposite.

I applaud your communication, Cheryl, on yet another occasion.

chlorostoma , 5/9/12 6:33 PM

I just hope the Madrid big bossman doesn't come hunt me down. :)

I still can't understand why they can't get the watering done properly. This has been a problem for YEARS.

cherylmurray , 5/9/12 6:43 PM

What is that bossman going to do?

The thing about sticking to as close a version of the truth and of what is relevant as you know it is.... if the person arguing against you is arguing from falsehoods they really do not have an argument and can only go for handwaving, twisting, more lying, calling the other person names and so on... there is just nothing to stand on.

Witness so many exchanges right here on TT.

chlorostoma , 5/9/12 7:17 PM

It's not just the colour or texture of the 'clay' that's the problem with these Madrid courts. They should never ever have been accepted by the ATP/WTA as part of the European clay court swing as they are essentially cement courts with clay packed on top.

The ATP & WTA are obviously going to have to vote that this year's trial run (and it was just a one-off try-out that was permitted) of the blue clay was a disaster and ban it's future use... which will please our local Madrid authorities as they can't afford the astronomical additional cost entailed in these times of economic crisis.

I'm all for reviving Hamburg but more so for the Monte Carlo tournament being given back its well-earned Masters 1000 status.

lluisa , 5/9/12 8:21 PM

Cheryl, I'm sure the watering problem is probably related to the fact that it is not really a properly constructed clay court.. you know, a traditional one built up in layers of different sized/graded materials to facilitate drainage.

lluisa , 5/9/12 8:29 PM

Which leads me back to my original question. Why aren't there some regulations about these natural surfaces?

cherylmurray , 5/9/12 9:23 PM

If you read Rafa's interview re the blue clay as posted in English translation on vamos brigade he is very diplomatic with the tournament organizers (perhaps only because diplomacy is called for) and lays the responsibility squarily with the ATP.

chlorostoma , 5/9/12 10:07 PM eid=25

i doubt blue clay going back to red next year.
This man sounds very confident.

mani4Tennis , 5/10/12 12:06 AM

Oh, it'll go back to proper red clay next year all right!
Tiriac was allowed a 1 year trial to see how it went and obviously it has not gone down well with anybody. The extra expense involved is also a major issue locally.

lluisa , 5/10/12 1:19 AM

The reason why Rafa and Djokovic blame the colour of the clay is because this is what in fact has made the court slippery. The commentator yesterday in Rafas match explained why. It doesnt matter what colour you dye the clay but if it is done poorly you get slippery clay. Meaning, the coloured dye needs to be given enough time to seep into each grain of clay, to saturate it, just like water does to rice and if done properly you get clay that is rougher in texture. If it isnt given enough time to penetrate each grain of clay fully, it coats the surface of the grain and makes it as smooth as a piece of rice.
Hence the abysmal situation we have in Madrid

isabeau77 , 5/10/12 5:38 AM

That doesn't surprise me, actually. Especially given the amount of dye that would be required to get that bright shade of blue.

That tournament has consistently had issues with waiting until the last moment to try to get things done. If I remember correctly, the first year the locker rooms weren't even in good shape yet.

cherylmurray , 5/10/12 1:26 PM

I think the reason Nadal has been more diplomatic in his thoughts about the blue clay is that Tiriac honoured Manolo Santana with the naming of the show court and as managing director of the tournament. This, i assume, was a tactical move on Tiriac's part as it forces Rafa to tread more carefully with his words about the surface and the tournament due to his respect and relationship with Santana. Santana was consistently on court for rafas practice sessions asking for feedback. Just a thought.

willmw101 , 5/10/12 2:17 PM

Apparently the crew worked through the night trying to improve court condition...but Tsonga is still sliding, so I don't know how effective the efforts were.

cherylmurray , 5/10/12 2:57 PM

In addition, Rafa is always trying to be fair and highlight the positive. Each tournament he plays at he finds something to say to showcase it as a special tournament. You could call that hypocritical if you like but it is far from that. Which does not mean to say he does not voice important issues.

As for the Madrid tournament, in addition to respecting Santana, he also is not going to be too harsh speaking about any tournament in his home country, so as a public person he has to thread sensibly, all the while not hiding problems under the carpet. He made a good point about the ATP. He might also appreciate the positive side of Tiriac: pumping a lot of money into the Madrid venue, highlighting it, marketing it.. even if for self-gain, ego and even if done through bad decisions and mediocre management. It does not take anyone more informed than any of the posters here on TT to know the way the blue clay was formulated and implemented was not good for the players, and Tiriac had a chance to work this out with experts ahead of time. Still, the ATP should step up now and make rules about surfaces not being injury prone.

chlorostoma , 5/10/12 2:58 PM

A must read well-resourced article on the multiple economic and logistical problems at the Madrid venue, which would be added to by keeping the blue clay : eling-effects-not-getting-olympic-games

The main courts at the Caja Magica, constructed as they are with a cement foundation to be used for basketball most of the year (see article), could NEVER be turned into proper clay courts worthy of the name. As Rafa said yesterday, and the king of clay knows quite a bit about the topic, "this is the clay court season and these are far from being clay courts".

lluisa , 5/10/12 3:20 PM

^^^^Very interesting read.

nadline , 5/11/12 9:28 PM

@iluisa thanks for the link, an interesting article

jaskarans , 5/12/12 11:24 AM

I agree - Madrid as a spring clay court event just does not and cannot work. Move the tournament elsewhere - hell, promote Barcelona (stadium may be too small, dunno) - or go back to Hamburg and give Madrid its old fall spot as a hardcourt event.
I really hope the tournament ends w/o a serious player injury but I'm glad the blue clay experiment has been a disaster. Worst thing that could happen is seeing the stuff propagate, even to RG! Rafa was right on with his original aesthetic objections. Just say NO to blue clay!

Ramara , 5/12/12 2:52 PM

Ramara, 5/12/12 2:52 PM

Thank you, ramara, for your objective post. Rafa is right and has been all along. It is sad that some people allow their old prejudices against Rafa to blind them to simple reason................

rafaisthebest , 5/12/12 3:23 PM

Kudos Cheryl for the brilliant and well-balanced post {unlike Blue Clay}.I hope player's can discuss the matter and sort it out amicably[out of the court] with ATP.We want best player's to play at Madrid every.The tournament will be poor without Djokovic and nadal and the void will be difficult to fill if they go on labour strike.It is not good for tennis either.I hope better sense prevails...............

hrsikesa , 5/13/12 10:11 AM

Anyway both Rafa and Nole will be able to skip one Masters next year (I expect Nole to have played more than 600 matches this year or early next year) so whichever they're going to skip the tournament will be affected. If it's not Shanghai, it may be Paris or it may be Madrid. Rafa is not going to play five clay tournaments every year going forward, so whether it's blue clay or not, chances are Rafa may skip Madrid now and then, may skip it permanently if it's blue clay. There's nothing shocking about it. For Nole he may also skip Madrid and plays his home tournament, when he's allowed to skip one Masters. It's up to them to plan their own schedules. I expect Rafa to cut down on his schedule as he grows older, so he may skip even more Masters going forward.

luckystar , 5/13/12 10:25 AM

Rafa was never keen on Madrid being an outdoor clay tournament bang in the middle of the clay season because of the high altitude so I'm sure he won't be playing it again, whether the clay is blue or red.

Tiriac says the ATP will have to see what it can do if both players boycott Madrid, what he doesn't know is that the ATP wont be able to do anything about it.

nadline , 5/13/12 10:50 AM

And why is Tiriac saying this, is he the new spokesperson for the ATP? Ooops, forgot........he owns them.................

rafaisthebest , 5/13/12 11:17 AM

Tiriac is not stupid. He is seriously worried about a Rafa/Nole no-show, hence his desperate attempts to get them frog-marched to Madrid next year.

He had to pick a fight with the King of Clay, from Spain, on clay, in Spain. Talk about hubris............

rafaisthebest , 5/13/12 11:31 AM

Sam Stosur on FB: "Good to be back on real clay, love it here in Rome"

Rohan Bopanna on Twitter: "Done with the blue clay here in Madrid and heading to the real stuff in Rome. Time to explore the city as well."

Even Tiriac has to admit at some point that what he put in Madrid is not real clay.............

rafaisthebest , 5/13/12 11:51 AM

Did the WTA have a say? What if they wanted pink clay?

nadline , 5/13/12 1:09 PM

I almost feel sorry for Tiriac:

Fans at Madrid whistle at tournament owner Ion Tiriac and tournament director Manolo Santana during the on court trophy presentation after Serena Williams beats Victoria Azarenka for the title. The tournament has been embroiled in controversy about the slipperiness of the blue clay. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have promised not to return if the conditions don?t change.

"Do not whistle at him, but at me," Tiriac told reporters. "I take responsibility for those whistles, Santana should not be blamed. It's been a tough week for everyone. Not so much for me, because I'm too old. The technicians have worked like dogs until 5 AM to correct the condition of the courts. That the conditions are not perfect is obvious, but they are the same conditions for all players." eid=17638&zoneid=25

rafaisthebest , 5/13/12 8:34 PM

U should feel for yourself after Tiriac bashing.What he said is an honest opinion.But u will not get a single penny for you transgressions.

hrsikesa , 5/13/12 10:45 PM


rafaisthebest , 5/13/12 10:48 PM


holdserve , 5/13/12 11:02 PM

Looking forward to Rafa and Joker challenge at Rome and Paris.Our champion can regain No.1 by winning next 2/4 tournaments.

hrsikesa , 5/14/12 12:16 AM

hrsikinhead, how to win half a tournament? Must be new punchbag rule like blue "clay" HC

seriously, you ok hrsikhead? is hot wear you are? drink liquids and most of all check expiry date on your medication.

I worry for you hrpuffnstuff

hawkeye , 5/14/12 1:49 AM

I think its beyond your comprehension ability.
Well,Joker thinks he is ready for Rolland Garros in 2012,in 2011 he wasn't.I think its the other way round.he could have won all the 4 Grand Slams in one year in 2011 which Federer came close to doing thrice.
Looks like a new champion will be crowned at Rome,Paris and London. Tennis is really getting interesting...............Whoever of the Top 4(murray,nadal,federer or djokovic) can sustain the winning momentum and confidence will be No.1 after Wimbledon.

hrsikesa , 5/14/12 8:03 AM

Rafa will kick everyone's ass in Rome and in Paris. This will be FO 2008 revisited.
And he will win wimbledon (might lose some sets in the 1st week but not much in the 2nd week).

atul1985 , 5/15/12 8:42 AM

^^^^^and defend his Olympics gold.............

rafaisthebest , 5/15/12 10:27 AM

Atul r u day-dreaming or looking at stars in the day.U will get + KITA for your predictions.Anyone of Top : 4 has a great chance.All of them are in great shape.There might be a surprise from Top;10 also.We will see on 10th June and 8th July'12.I think it will be a repeat of 2009 as far as FO and Wimbledon is concerned:
FO'2012-----------------Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal
Wimbledon'12----------Roger Federer/Novak Djokovic
Olympics'12------------Novak Djokovic/Andy Murray
USO'12-----------------Andy Murray /Rafael Nadal

Never underestimate any player.

hrsikesa , 5/15/12 1:06 PM

hrsikesa, you are the one who is day dreaming if you think Fed will win FO. Rafa will win FO.
Bookmark it!!

atul1985 , 5/15/12 1:39 PM advance
We will see.Let's wait and watch.

hrsikesa , 5/15/12 2:00 PM

The blue clay wasn't perfect, nothing is in the beginning, because it was slippery. Which was dangerous to the players... but some players found their footing.

Before 2002 the courts were all very different from each other. Federer admitted when he started on the in 1998, he needed to adjust to a different court and courtspeed every week. Nowadays, the courts are all very similar to eachother. Is it a suprise that the two players who won Madrid (Federer and Serena) are veterans in the game and know how to adept to a court.

Due to the the courts being more consistent, more standard. There is less of a gap between surfaces and courts. This has lead to players being able to showcase more consistency during a season and rewarding that. It also opened the door for Federer, Nadal en Djokovic to reel in Slams in a fast pace. And players nowadays expect the courts to be mostly similar to eachother.

Maybe that is also a reason why players are complaining. This is not what they are used to on a court, not what they've come to expect. The court should not be a risk for players. But Monte Carlo's court wasn't perfect either and led to some serious injuries. But I didn't hear anyone complain about that!

The standardization has led to reward consistent play throughout the year, but with the loss of the ability to adept. And that is something we need to complain about!

Bonker , 5/15/12 3:06 PM

Everything is up for debate of course but I know what I DON'T want........I don't want any player putting themselves out and playing on an unsafe court, risking injury for my viewing pleasure. If that was my proclivity I would be a fan of American football, WWE wrestling, boxing, hell, even ice hockey.................

rafaisthebest , 5/15/12 3:23 PM

That's true ritb! It should be safe to play tennis, or any kind of sport for that matter. It's not that there is a solution for this... you either like the consistency in players to perform every week or to see players adepting their game every week. One isn't better than the other, it's just matter of someone's personal taste :-)

Bonker , 5/15/12 3:31 PM

Rafa and Nole had more at stake. Except for delusional fans, nobody expects Fed to win RG and Wimby if Rafa and Nole are even at 90% . So obviously when history is beckoning, neither could sacrifice their chances just to please Fed fans.
Further, Fed's game is suited to the surface (it might even have been prepared to his specifications). So, he did not need to put his career at stake to win against the lesser players.
As soon as Rafa tested the surface, he predicted that it would favor those with strong serves. And that's exactly what happened.

holdserve , 5/15/12 4:05 PM

Yeah Roger gave specs of Blue Clay to Tiriac-the true gentlemen.He likes colours-Blonde,Brown,Red etc.
Holdserve--- let's move to Red Clay at Rome enroute to Paris. Its very important to hold serve on any surface........

hrsikesa , 5/15/12 6:03 PM

I watched the players slipping and sliding and unable to get any traction in their matches at Madrid. What I think of this disgusting blue pseudo-clay cannot be said in polite language.

I see hawkeye is still hard at work and the usual suspects are at it again. In that regard, it was a blessing to not have my computer last week. I didn't have to read some of the nonsense here. I got a break.

It was so obvious how the surface played to guys like Delpo, Berdy and Fed. But to see the players slipping and losing their balance was a disgrace.

Nativenewyorker , 5/16/12 12:58 AM

"Play on ice if you have to" says Serena, what do you say on this Cheryl?
Or will you go with World no1 and 3 ?

sabs , 5/16/12 6:17 AM

I saw players slipping & getting injured at Monte-Carlo.

Is ATP planning to punish MC organizers??

KMA , 5/16/12 7:50 AM h-in-Madrid-second-in-world-rankings-051312

It starts out as an article about Federer/Berdych, but it offers an explanation to the state of the courts in Madrid. Any thoughts???

ts38 , 5/16/12 8:03 AM

sabs, 5/16/12 6:17 AM

Given the state of the WTA they may have to play on ice and introduce other vaudeville acts, blue clay included, to attract viewers and attention................

So, you do see where Serena is coming from, no?

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 8:24 AM

A court can't be a risk to a player's health. But Monte Carlo also was a risk with lumps and holes. Madrid was worse due to the slippery court. Santana admitted the problems with the clay this year. But the clay is going to lay there all year, like they do at RG. Maybe that would benefit the condition of the clay.

Wimbledon was a slippery grass court in the past, untill the court was changed in 2002. Evident was the final between Hewitt and Nalbandian, who didn't play S&V. The court and the balls simply didn't require S&V anymore to be effective.

Roger Federer stated last week that the speed of the courts are more or less similar all over the world. It's the reason for the huge successes that players are having lately. Because the courts are very similar and players don't really have to change their game.

Jimmy Connors tweeted before MC: Clay court season is upon us, but does it really matter, nobody changes their game anyway. And it's true... no major changes are made in someone's game. That's why most players today are all-court players, compared to the true court-specialist in the old days.

Bonker , 5/16/12 9:14 AM

Please let's not compare MC to Madrid. At least it was real clay. There can always be some problems with courts, but to create this artificial blue clay that causes players to not only slip, but be unable to push off for their shots, lose their balance and stumble, is ridiculous.

Safety should be the first priority. It's funny that when Rafa wins, all the haters and rabid Fed fans bring up the surface. But when Rafa and his fans talk about the very real dangers and liabilities of this cuckoo blue stuff, then we are wrong.

You cannot have it both ways!

Nativenewyorker , 5/16/12 9:33 AM

Bonker, 5/16/12 9:14 AM

1. When a court is slippery, a player can slip and injure themselves. I do not how a slippery court cannot be termed a risk to a player's health.

2. Monte Carlo. Madrid countered the criticism of the appaling conditions at their tournament by pointing at Monte Carlo. So, risk is relative now? Come to Madrid, where you stand less of a chance of getting injured! I rest my case.........

3. The clay is going to "settle" in Madrid now. What they are not telling you is that the reason it will be allowed to "settle" this time is beacuse the other sporting acts such as basketball which were supposed to share the space with tennis have moved out, so it'sot as if Santana and co. will be letting the court "settle" because of the concerns of the tennis world. These are cynical people who are just chasing money, nothing else. In any case, why should Rafa and Nole trust them now, when they so blatantly lied before?

3. Fast courts. Is this why they changed the playing surface at Madrid, without the player's buy-in? To provide a "counter" to the homogenisation of the courts? Now we know.....................

4. With respect to Jimmy Connors, I do not know which players he follows. I follow Rafa and I see his game change depending on the surface. He has a clay court game, a grass court game and a hard court game. Rafa has become an all-court player becomes he adjusts his game to the surface. That is change right there. So sorry, if the other players cannot do this this explains their lack of success against Rafa on clay, because Rafa competes very well with them on the so-called one strike tennis surfaces. Adjust to the blue clay? No chance, for what pay-off? Senseless so close to RG...................

All this whining (not yours, but the general consensus) about slowing of court surfaces, players lacking variety blah, blah, blah is code for "neutralise Rafa"........

Anyone who watched the Muzza/Nalbandian or the Ferrero/Monfils games yesterday has to appreciate the beauty of REAL clay court tennis. Thosed who cannot appreciate it should do us a favour by switching off and waiting for the indoor season to start......................fair, no?

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 9:39 AM

I'm not trying to put Rafa's or Nole's or Fed's successes down... all those successes are hard earned. There isn't a solution for this... it's a matter of personal taste. Because of the courts being very similar, it allows for players to shine all year, consistency pays off.

And it's not like the complaints aren't grounded, because they are. I'm just trying to provide something to discuss about by being a devil's advocate.

Bonker , 5/16/12 10:08 AM

Bonker, 5/16/12 10:08 AM

I know, bonker, and personally I appreciate your interventions on these boards because they are thought provoking and intelligently laid out, unlike some of the rubbish we see..............

I may not agree with some of your opinions, but I respect them. Please do not stop. Hopefully some of the, shall we say................not so coherent posters will learn from your interventions....................

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 10:18 AM

ritb @9.39am - great post.

schatz , 5/16/12 12:21 PM

1. The courts in Monte Carlo were in bad shape accidentally. The French used it for Davis Cup, tore it up and they couldn't get it to settle in time. Madrid PURPOSELY messed around with the surface.

2. (and I consider this a most important point) Madrid is on the tennis schedule as a preparation tournament for the French Open. Considering it didn't even play like clay, much less the clay in Paris, in what way is it doing its job?

3. Jimmy Connors is talking out of his backside. Rafa and Roger both tailor their games to the surface they're on. In fact, Rafa's entire stroke swing is different on grass. Connors is incorrect.

4. As for Serena saying "play on ice if we have to". Why "have to"? Blue clay isn't necessary. There is no need for it. It's all about stoking egos and nothing else. What she really means is "I've got no complaints since I won." She isn't the world's greatest mover anyway, so the slippery conditions won't affect her the way they do, say, Azarenka.

cherylmurray , 5/16/12 1:57 PM

^^^^VAMOS, CHERYL!!!!!

The sage has spoken..............................

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 2:14 PM

ehmm.....I know I nominated @nadline for a seat on the ATP council on a different thread, well...............I'd like to rescind that nomination and nominate Cheryl instead....

I know, know @nadline,.........can't help meself, I go with the wind................

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 2:17 PM

Cheryl, you are a woman after my own heart as the saying goes. I love people who have the guts to speak the truth. Good for you - all of what you said is fair IMO. I am surprised that Jimmy Connors came out with such a statement but there you go.

schatz , 5/16/12 3:01 PM

^^^^^and let's not forget that's what Rafa's being pilloried for these days..............for having the temerity to speak his mind, which happens to be the truth.........

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 3:06 PM

thank you Cheryl for presenting the relavant facts clearly and with no wiggle room

I ask myself why Connors would say such patent, shall we say, less_than_truth. He might be joining the ranks of some of the players of his time who have said all kinds of things to somehow dminish the accomplishments of Roger and Rafa (and they'll do it with Novak too, give them time). Jealousy I say.

chlorostoma , 5/16/12 3:49 PM

@bleck, should you happen to stumble onto this thread, please read through cheryl's post of 5/16/12 1:57 PM ........these are some of the issues (not personal diatribes) I expect any half-decent tennis journalist to cover, not the drivel that hack, Peter Bodo, wrote in his anti-Rafa polemic..............

rafaisthebest , 5/16/12 4:01 PM

Ha ha ha, Jimmy Connors is saying nobody change their game for the different surfaces. How true is that, when you watch Fed plays. He plays exactly the same way, be it on clay, grass or hard courts. Now watch how Rafa plays, and you'll see the differences in the way he plays on clay, grass and the hard courts and that's what I've being talking about all along.

Yes cheryl was right about the MC court. I heard the commentators mentioning about the court being dug up for the French DC matches and I believe that's why the courts there this year were in such bad conditions.

And yes about Serena for not being a great mover, especially on the true clay courts, so the blue clay courts actually helped her as it played like a hard court and so she needed only her big serves to win majority of her points.

luckystar , 5/16/12 5:30 PM

I see the same bull fighting everwhere.

hrsikesa , 5/16/12 6:46 PM

I see the same sissy ballet dancing everywhere .

luckystar , 5/16/12 6:50 PM

luckystar - you made me smile.

schatz , 5/16/12 9:42 PM

cherylmurray, 5/16/12 1:57 PM,

This is the best post I have read in a long time! Bravo to our Cheryl for making the argument point by point and cutting through the nonsense to tell it like it is.

Connors has never been a favorite of mine. I have no idea why he would weigh in on this and say something so patently erroneous. Who knows what is going on with him.

I think the blue clay was a real outrage. Not only was it incredibly bad preparation for RG, but it actually was potentially dangerous to the players. It seemed ill-conceived and arbitrary, to say the least.

Nativenewyorker , 5/16/12 9:45 PM

luckystar, 5/16/12 6:50 PM

...what she said.

Could not say any better!!! Solidarity, Lucky!

haha hrsika$$ Hole in one, Lucky!!!

hawkeye , 5/16/12 10:13 PM

what kind of hole?

chlorostoma , 5/16/12 11:16 PM

Well, many kind of hole I believe such as golf as perhaps one example I think of.

hawkeye , 5/17/12 12:06 AM

I had my tongue firmly planted in my cheek (sing.)

but then you knew that

chlorostoma , 5/17/12 12:34 AM


hawkeye , 5/17/12 12:53 AM

I do not have any problem with the blue coloured court, but it has to be prepared to play like a clay court giving rich dividends to great movement etc.
Watching Rome, I have to say that the blue colour does lead to better visibility on TV.

atul1985 , 5/17/12 11:42 AM

Here is an article by Carlos Moya, the Assistant Director of the Madrid Tournament, in the Spanish paper, El Pais: 7192663_765218.html

If there are any Spanish speaking posters, grateful for a translation. In the meantime, here is what he said, according to Google translate:

1. The slipperiness was cause by salt poured on the surface to maintain surface humidity but this reacted badly with Madrid conditions. In Madrid, the water and heat crystalised the salt forming an unbreakable film which made the surface very slippery. THIS IS NOT WHAT THEY TOLD US EARLIER. They told us they compressed the base too much and this is what caused the problems. This is the first time I am hearing about this salt issue. How can anyone trust these people?

2. Moya concedes that the surface conditions favoured the offensive players, and were LETHAL for the defensive players. So Rafa and Novak were right to say the playing surface was dangerous.

3. Moya concedes that the courts did NOT play like other red clay courts, WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THEY TOLD THE ATP, ON WHICH BASIS HELFANT SANCTIONED THE BLUE.

4. Moya says it became obvious the player who would benefit from these playing conditions was Federer and this became a reality as he won!

5. Moya concedes that Madrid NEEDS Rafa and hopes that the relationship has not been irretrievably broken.

It is clear the whole tournament was an abortion. And now for a top official to come out and admit to things which Rafa said were wrong with the tournament and let him be crucified............................unbelievable.

rafaisthebest , 5/17/12 6:00 PM

Carlos Moya has always looked after Rafa and was his mentor for years on the tour. I think it is sad that such a thing has come between them - hopefully things will be worked out to everybody's satisfaction next year.

I have to admit I don't even like the look of the blue clay it looks very harsh and very unnatural - the red clay is easy on the eye and as it should be under foot.

schatz , 5/17/12 6:47 PM

An English version of Moya's comments, as reported by cleid=17696&zoneid=25

rafaisthebest , 5/17/12 7:24 PM

Finally made the mistake of reading Bozo's lame-ass rag piece and e-mailed him the following...

"The side of that statistic that few Nadal fans like to talk about is that Federer was always there to meet him, frustrating as it was for the Swiss champion?yet Nadal conspicuously missed similar appointments with Federer on the other surfaces."

Where was Fed for 2011 Wimby, 2011 USO, 2010 USO, 2010 Wimby to name a few, all non-clay slam events in which Nadal was always there to meet him.

It goes both ways, no?

A journalist can never be 100% objective but it is something to strive towards, not use as an excuse.

agfmilos , 5/17/12 8:36 PM

^^^Oh don't bother with Bodo the clown. He's been outed as a Fed fanboy maquerading as a journalist, an unprofessional one at that.............

rafaisthebest , 5/17/12 8:53 PM

Bodo = Bozo!!!

Monalysa , 5/17/12 9:46 PM

Apparently Delboy injured himself at comment...;)

deuce , 5/18/12 1:30 PM

^^^^^Rafa and Novak's fault of course...................sigh

rafaisthebest , 5/18/12 1:48 PM

Apparently THE (male) tennis player also injured himself at Madrid.... by his own admission...

but let's keep our blinkers on, shall we ? :-)

chlorostoma , 5/18/12 5:01 PM

What is sad is that philistines like Tiriac, Bodo, Helfant do not "get" really is NOT like football or Formula 1, tradition is integral to tennis. You don't need gimmicks to sell tennis, just a good product. A Fed/Rafa match, a Nole/Rafa match, a Muzza/Rafa match.............these are not gimmicks, and they do not need gimmicks to sell. If Tiriac and his cohorts i.e. "the innovators" had their way, skimpily dressed cheer-leaders would grace the courts prior to every match..............


rafaisthebest , 5/18/12 6:18 PM

ok blue clay is ONE thing that must go for sure, but let's not get carried away removing the scantily clad ball personnel!!!

agfmilos , 5/18/12 6:25 PM

Lol @ agfmilos :)). Like that sense of humor ;)

danica , 5/18/12 11:14 PM

Now we know who the power-brokers at the ATP are: OV4lvfYqQ58l4L2Ow091A?docId=N0060091340472555633A

"Madrid will not be able to continue its experiment with blue clay next year after the ATP announced they were banning the change of colour for 2013.

The courts caused huge controversy at the Masters Series tournament in May, with clay court maestro Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic particularly vociferous in their opposition.

ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett announced the decision at a meeting of the ATP board of directors in London, saying: "After careful consideration, I have decided that blue clay courts will not be allowed next year."

He added: "I very much believe in innovation and exploring ways to enhance our sport.

"While the blue clay may have offered better visibility on television, there were clearly issues with the quality of the courts in Madrid this year, which were not acceptable at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, one of our top events worldwide."

THANK YOU RAFA, THANK YOU NOVAK, THANK YOU UNCLE had the balls to stand up against this blue clay infamy AND WON.

rafaisthebest , 6/23/12 9:07 PM

As usual mug getting credits for nothing.

KMA , 6/23/12 10:53 PM

I think they should declare this year's Madrid Masters null and void as the quality of the courts were not acceptable for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.

I am proud of Rafa for putting his foot down and getting a result.

nadline , 6/23/12 11:02 PM

So what was all that hysteria calling Rafa's genuine concerns about the blue clay whining? This just proves a lot of people, fans, pundits and players alike, do not have Rafa's intelligence..........and balls.

It would have been so easy to buckle under the pressure (remember Peter Bodo's poison blog?) but not Rafa......................he stood his ground, no kow-towing to corporate interests at the expense of player safety for him.

I see a blog coming up from Johan Lindhal..............wasn't he the guy who posted endless blogs telling us the blue clay experiment had been a runaway success?

rafaisthebest , 6/23/12 11:25 PM

So Fed will be considered King of Blue Clay with no chance of anybody taking that title from him.

chr18 , 6/24/12 3:52 AM

Thank goodness. Commonsense has prevailed.

nadline@11.02pm ROFL.

ed251137 , 6/24/12 9:11 AM

I am very proud of Rafa for standing up for what he believed in and also respect Novak for standing by his side in this matter. What was even better was that they were going to vote with their feet in 2013 if things stayed the same.

Chr18 - yes, your man can enjoy being the King of blue clay.

schatz , 6/24/12 2:10 PM

@schatz, yes we can be proud of Rafa. Not only is he a very, very good tennis palyer, he is also a very, very principled young man. Kudos to Novak also for standing up for his beliefs.

chr18, Fed is a great champion, he does not need THAT win to validate that.......

rafaisthebest , 6/24/12 2:21 PM

Two inconvenient truths, given your king of blue clay quip (perhaps you meant it sardonically):
If it were not for the blue clay playing like ice and sand over hardcourt and making many players nervous re injuries plus not being able to move well.... it is likely that Fed would not have won there... so what does winning this particular installment of the Madrid Blues prove? (Rollerball movie, anyone?)

Federer DID pick up an injury at Madrid, very likely _because_ of this dangerous surface, and he was not the only ones. Various players came close to a bad fall or a joint injury. Again, what does this then make of that victory?

chlorostoma , 6/24/12 6:00 PM

^^^^re Fed's hip injury............. All the more mystifying why:

1. Fedfans supporetd the blue clay, it was dangerous. But I guess they are guided by the anything Rafa dislikes must be good principle.
2. The pundits are rushing to declare Fed a favourite to win Wimby, the man has not been 100% since Madrid, has to be the hip injury. Could he have made a miraculous recovery just in time for Wimby? Hmmmm................

rafaisthebest , 6/24/12 6:18 PM

Fed said himself he came to Madrid injured that's why he was speculating from the start of the tournament if he'd play Rome. I thought it was well recognized that sardonic wit was my specialty.

chr18 , 6/24/12 6:32 PM

Yes we all know you're a sardonic twit, no doubt about it!

jean , 6/24/12 6:53 PM

you twist and turn, chr18, but fool no one
I was (obviously!) sarcastic when I wrote that perhaps you meant that comment sardonically. I don't recall ever reading anything of your that is sardonic. I did think, when this way of looking at it occurred to me that... there was a good chance you would turn around and claim you had been sardonic re the madrid blues.

Re Fed's unjury... I do not recall him being talking about injure before Madrid started, but I do him saying he picked up an injury at Madrid. Hence my two inconvenient truths above.

chlorostoma , 6/24/12 7:27 PM

ritb @6.18pm - I would not put it past him to pull a fast one. As I said somewhere else I cannot understand his unwillingness to fight in certain matches recently. Has he been playing possum - who knows, he might have a strategy to peak with his A+++ game at Wimby and the Olympics. I have been thinking along similar lines ritb.

It will be interesting that's for sure.

schatz , 6/24/12 8:53 PM

schatz, 6/24/12 8:53 PM

Look, I wish him the best, same to all the other players. It's just that at this moment I have not seen a single compelling argumentn which would justfy me touting him as a heavy favourite!

Of, anything can happen in a tennis tournament............he may very well turn around and surprise us, operative word being surprise..............

rafaisthebest , 6/24/12 8:58 PM

I also do not consider him to be a heavy favourite but as you say anything can happen in tennis. I quite like the spotlight being off Rafa really if I am honest - this will help him I think. We definitely do not want any surprises :)

Let's just hope he lets his raquet do the talking, one match at a time. I am getting nervous already for his first match against Bellucci - I have faith in Rafa but I do not like to take anything for granted just like our boy.

schatz , 6/24/12 9:15 PM


DanyalRasool , 10/7/12 11:24 AM


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