Nadal, Djokovic see red over blue clay


Rafael Nadal on Friday blasted the decision to play next month’s Madrid Masters, a key tournament in the build-up to the French Open, on blue clay rather than the traditional red. “My opinion, it’s a mistake,” said the Spanish world number two. “You are in the middle of the clay court season, and the clay here in Europe is red. “Madrid is the only tournament you are playing at high altitude, and then now you are putting a different colour of clay. Madrid is big enough not to need this promotion. The history of the clay court season is on red, not blue.”
World number one Novak Djokovic also added his concern, saying it was the wrong time to experiment with playing conditions. “Sometimes change is good. I like innovative and creative people,” said Djokovic after reaching the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals. “But, on the other hand, it’s going to be the only blue clay court tournament in the world. To be honest with you, as far as I know, most of the top players I talked to, nobody has agreed.” Djokovic named Roger Federer and Nadal as sharing his doubts about the wisdom of the publicity-generating experiment from master showman Ion Tiriac.
“I’ve never played on blue clay, Rafa hasn’t, Roger hasn’t. We’re going on there and we’re going to play for the first time ever. “We don’t even know if it’s a natural blue clay because natural clay is a red clay.” Djokovic added: “I’m not really too happy about it. It’s going to be interesting to step on the blue clay. All credit to the tournament. I’m not blaming them. They fight for their own.” But the Serb said that changes need to be made to the rule which allowed former president of the ATP, Adam Helfant, to back the change in the surface. “There is a certain rule that the president is able to make decisions by himself without having players agree. That rule has to be changed because it’s not fair. That’s what happened last year. That is why Madrid has a blue clay.”
Nadal seeking lucky seven on Barcelona clay: Home hero Rafael Nadal will try for lucky seven as the ATP Barcelona Open begins on Monday, with the Spanish king of clay already a champion in six of the last seven editions. Nadal showed no sign of knee problems amid his storming return to tennis this week at the Monte Carlo Masters and will be hoping to keep up his trademark momentum on his favourite surface as he performs for the Catalan crowds expected to pack the Real Club de Tenis. Nadal’s domination of the event has been near-total with his only slip-up coming in 2010, when he had to rest his fragile knees.
The Spaniard will take to the court after the bye awarded to the first eight seeds and after receiving the highest praise from legend Bjorn Borg, who called him the best-ever on the surface. “Let’s wait when I finish my career,” said the modest Nadal, “My uncle always told me that when Bjorn went on court, everybody felt he was unbeatable. So that probably means that he can be the best of the history. “I don’t feel unbeatable, but I have much better results that I ever dreamed. I don’t know if I’m (the equal) of Bjorn.” Andy Murray, who learned his tennis as a Scottish teenager transplanted to the Catalan capital, will take the second seeding after being forced to withdraw last year to let a right elbow injury rest. World number four Murray has made only three previous appearances at the event, winning one round from four matches. His last showing was 2009, when he lost to Mario Ancic.