Does tennis really need to go to some weird extremes to promote itself? It’s a question that some are asking about the blue clay surface that has been laid down for the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid. Certainly the...
Does tennis really need to go to some weird extremes to promote itself? It’s a question that some are asking about the blue clay surface that has been laid down for the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid. Certainly the big name players are not happy about it and you gotta wonder if an event as big and as successful as Madrid should need to go to such extent for attention. I don’t know, so we’d be curious to get your feedback on the situation. I can see two sides to the argument. The players feel this is an important tournament on the circuit so why should changes be necessary. It is sandwiched between the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome and the French Open. Both those events along with recently completed Monte Carlo have all maintained the traditions of clay court tennis; red clay courts. On the other hand the event is looking to gain as much focus on it as possible. It’s working, we’re talking about it. Just like with Lady Gaga, do you talk about her songs as much as you talk about how she looks? “Sometimes change is good; I like innovative and creative people and sometimes to be able to have that ability, to be brave enough to have some change, is worth appreciation in some ways,” said World No.1 Novak Djokovic. “But, on the other hand, it's going to be the only blue clay court tournament in the world, first time ever in history. Most of the top players I talked to, nobody agreed on that. “I never played on blue clay. Rafa didn't. Roger didn'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 natural blue clay because natural clay is a red clay. So we will find out really. I'm not really too happy about it, you know what I mean? It's going to be interesting to step on the blue clay obviously. All the credit to the tournament, I'm not blaming them. They fight for their own.” I think one question is where does all this end before the sport becomes a bit of a laughing stock? These sorts of gimmicks are great for exhibitions and World Team Tennis which is left of centre (I don’t mean that in a negative manner). Some may argue that the colour of hard courts have changed and you have green ones, blue ones, purple ones, so why is a blue clay court any different? Rafa Nadal is so dead against the concept and he absolutely, categorically has no support whatsoever for blue clay courts. “First thing because you are in the middle of clay court season, and the clay here in Europe is red. Madrid is the only tournament you are playing with high altitude, and then now you are putting a different colour of clay,” said Nadal. “Second feeling is Madrid is enough big; they don't need to have this promotion for the tournament, because 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. “What makes a really important tournament, what makes a really big tournament at the end is the history of tennis. This tournament is big because the history is there. Best players of history played in this court. “My opinion, is a mistake. In my opinion, too, is always the same history, no? The players doesn't win nothing. The tennis doesn't win nothing. One person win. Only the owner of the tournament win something on that. So I cannot understand how the ATP accept that. We were against, the players.” Nadal is so against the idea that he says he won’t practice on the court – I can’t figure out that reasoning. Certainly he will play Madrid for a number of reasons because “it's my country. It's one of my favourite tournaments of the world. I play at home. I play in Madrid. I play in front of my crowd. I love the tournament”. In its own defence the tournament said: “Blue courts make the ball more visible for fans watching the game live at the Caja Mágica and for television viewers. This was the conclusion of a report published by the Technological Institute of Optic Colour and Professional Image. “The study carried out analysed the contrast between tennis balls, both in movement and static, on a red clay court and a blue clay court. All the data was then evaluated by analysing the vision of the human eye, both in the case of those present at courtside and those watching at home on LCD and LED television screens, both on HD and compressed images.” That’s fine, but if the players don’t produce the standard of play they’re capable of because this surface is a distraction, then is there a risk that fans could turn away? “If you don't have the top players agreeing on that, it doesn't make sense for me really,” added Djokovic. “I understand that we all want to see a certain change and improvement in our tennis world. But on the other hand you need to hear out what the players say, especially the top ones, because we need to feel that our opinion matters. That was not the case this time.” One change Madrid made a few years ago that also garnered attention was the beautiful women models that were court attendants. That idea was totally accepted. As Novak said with a smirk on his face: “Much more in favour, and still in favour.” So what’s your opinion, blue or red clay courts? What about green, wouldn’t that be an easier transition to grass?