It’s Berdych against Federer for the title of blue clay master. Who are you pulling for? I’m going with Roger, to win the tournament and hoist the
blue trophy over his head. Seriously, this tendency towards blue has got to stop. I’ve been hearing rumors about the ball being changed from yellow to electric blue for Madrid in 2013. I sincerely hope they’re wrong and it’s just a myth being stirred up by the tennis community.
Incidentally, I should mention that Roger will move up to two in the world if he wins the finals. This would be the first time he’d be ranked higher than Nadal in two years. That and it would tie his record for masters series titles with Nadal at 20 each. Given the significances of this match and Berdych’s comparative lack of experience in finals. I think Federer is a likely winner in their face off.
Fernando Verdasco, just scored the biggest upset of his career, by knocking off the king of clay in a three set marathon match. Verdasco looked finished in the third set. Having split the first two sets with Nadal, he quickly fell behind to a 2-5 deficit. But in an uncharacteristic change of events, it was Verdasco who came roaring back against the mentally tough Nadal to win the last five games and record his first win over the world number two, in 14 tries.
Verdasco, will now face Tomas Berdych for a spot in the Madrid semi-finals. Berdych, has a clear edge in their head to head and even sports a respectable 2-all record against Verdasco on clay. This should be an interesting one.
Going back to Nadal for a minute, his early round loss doesn’t come as a surprise to me. He’s routinely expressed his dislike for the Madrid tournament. The high altitude and faster court speed doesn’t suit his preference.
Not all courts are going to work out perfectly for his playing style. He’s got to accept that. But with that said, I think Madrid has gone overboard with the changes they’ve made. It’s obvious the players, aren’t comfortable moving on the blue surface. Djokovic, said he won’t be coming back to play in Madrid, if they don’t reverse their decision.
Some people might call it whining but I feel it’s a legitimate complaint. The tennis courts are the workspace of a professional athlete. The last thing they want is for something to distract them from their job. Imagine if you were working in an office and your boss comes in to tell you that all of the company’s computers will be changed to an inefficient model that no one is familiar with. Wouldn’t it be really annoying to have to learn all of the new functions, while still being expected to maintain the same schedule? That’s what this reminds me of. An unfortunate change which is compromising the tournament’s credibility. Madrid, is already very different from the other clay court tournaments. The slippery surface is not an improvement.
I hope they will bring back the red stuff for next year. The ATP has stated that the blue clay was an experiment for 2012. It will be decided next year whether they’re going to keep it or not. Given the negative backlash against the change and potential boycotting I’d be surprised if they don’t turn it back to red.
You may have heard by now, that Madrid will be changing the color of their clay courts from the traditional red/brown to blue. Blue? It’s definitely strange looking. Some top players have voiced their opinions against it. Both Djokovic and Nadal, have stated that they are opposed to the new change. I can’t say I blame them either. Madrid, is the only tournament during the clay court season to be played at a high altitude. Making it significantly different from the other events. Conditions wise, it’s most similar to Roland Garros. With the speed of the clay being about the same.
Like it or hate it, the blue clay is probably here to stay. It’s really just apreference thing, anyway. And it does bring an original aspect to the tournament.
Ion Tiriac, the tournament owner said that the reason behind the change, was to make it easier for fans to follow the ball. I will agree with him on that point. Sometimes I lose track of the ball when I’m watching a clay court match. In fact this may start a new trend for clay court tournaments, to change the clay from red to other colors which are easier on the eyes.