MADRID – The Madrid Open was in danger of losing two of its star attractions for next year’s edition after Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic said they would boycott the Masters event unless organisers ditched the controversial blue clay courts.
World number one Djokovic and number two Nadal have been the most vocal in attacking the new surface, which organisers argue makes it easier for TV viewers to follow the balls but many players say is much more slippery than traditional red clay.
Nadal was dumped out in the third round on Thursday when he was upset by 15th seed Fernando Verdasco, the French Open champion’s first defeat on clay in 23 matches and his first loss to his Spanish compatriot in 14 meetings on all surfaces.
“The ATP and the tournament can do what they want,” a visibly irritated Nadal told a news conference.
“I tried my best to prepare but I wasn’t good enough to adapt my game to this court,” added the 25-year-old, who was chasing a third straight clay title of the season.
“The only thing that I know is that if things continue like this I am very sad but next year will be one less tournament in my calendar.”
Organisers declined to comment, while the ATP said the blue courts are a one-year experiment and a decision will be taken on whether to keep them for 2013 once all feedback had been considered.
Djokovic slammed the Manolo Santana centre court after his laboured second-round victory on Tuesday and joked that he was considering wearing football boots or enlisting the help of action star Chuck Norris to help deal with the slick surface.
He slipped and slid his way to a 7-6 6-4 win against unseeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka on Thursday before announcing he would not play in the Spanish capital next year unless the red clay courts were reinstated.