I never thought this tournament made much sense in the clay season as a lead up to RG, because the altitude made it too different. Now with the introduction of dyed clay and its very different characteristics, it's even worse. And the slippery conditions are a serious problem.
Besides that, I’ve always thought this whole Caja Mágica design, the models acting as ballgirls and so on, were insufferably poshlost material. They even use blue toilet paper! http://www.europapress.es/chance/mod...507163517.html
Maybe one of the few positve outcomes of the financial crisis ravaging Spain will be the disappearance of this ugly tournament. Bring back Hamburg, or promote Estoril or Barcelona or some other real clay tourament at sea level to Master 1000 status. But please get rid of this abomination.
Here are some comments I’ve seen by players.
"I've always been very clear. The place of a [Masters] 1,000 is to prepare for Roland Garros ... you cannot do what was done," Almagro told reporters. "The courts are sliding a lot. It's a different, unique surface that isn’t used in any other tournament. It’s so close to Roland Garros that we prefer to play on red clay. The court is not in the best condition. You slip a lot and hopefully there will be no injuries. To [stay upright] on the court you need to make a real effort. But Ion Tiriac and Manolo Santana wanted have a blue court blue and there we have it. They, in favor of the show, wanted this court and we have to comply."
“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.”
“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.’”
"Yo la siento igual de rápida que todos los años. Lo que también siento es que es más difícil correr y que resbala mucho. Por momentos tiene mucha tierra y en otros lados no.” [The court seems to me as fast as in previous years. But I also feel it’s harder to run on it, it's very slippery. In some parts there is a lot of clay, and in other parts there isn’t.]
Ivo Karlovic, a sardonic Croatian with a large Twitter following, derided them as “something smurfs would play on”. The world’s top-ranked woman, Victoria Azarenka, complained on Sunday that “the bounce is different, the movement is different … it’s just 100 per cent different.”
Meanwhile, the issue of player safety had popped up earlier that afternoon when Caroline Wozniacki fell and ricked her ankle during a hard-fought three set win over Ksenia Pervak. After the match, Wozniacki admitted that she had found the surface “slippery”.
It is the nature of sportsmen and women to be super-sensitive about their office environment. A malfunctioning computer can waste your morning’s work, but a ridge in a tennis court might spell the end of a career.
The blue clay courts are built from crushed brick, just like the orange ones, except that the material has been stripped of its iron oxide (the chemical that provides the original colour) and then treated with dye. It was inevitable that the process would change the way they behave.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the two best clay-court players in the world, have been lambasting Tiriac’s decision for some time – both for its potentially disruptive effects and for its unilateralism. And now that the event has actually started, the rank and file have joined in, with the reliably outspoken Sergiy Stakhovsky tweeting that “I can say with full responsibility on my shoulders that it is the worst court of @ATPWorldTour.”
It would be easy to paint the players as whingeing prima donnas, who would block any attempts to change the game on principle. But then they are dedicated to excellence – they wouldn’t be here at a Masters Series tournament if they weren’t – and this surface is clearly not the best way to prepare for the clay-court finale at Roland Garros.
Neither is it making much of an impact on the TV companies. “I thought the visual contrast would be stronger,” said Mark Petchey, a commentator with Sky Sports. “I know the surface is getting the tournament talked about but I still feel it has been an own goal, because the top players – particularly the top men – have not come on board. If Tiriac carries on down this path next year, he can expect some high-profile absentees. I’ll be staggered if we’re not back to red clay in 12 months’ time.”