Madrid Open: Why Was the Blue Clay Banned?

Published 04/25/2021, 4:16 AM EDT
A general view during the match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Francis Tiafoe of The United States during day six of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 09, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)


Usually a week-long event conducted in the first week of May, the Mutua Madrid Masters is the second clay-court ATP 1000 event of the season. The tournament was inaugurated in 2002, and was played on hard courts before being changed to clay in 2009. It is one of the prime events of the season.

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The owner of the tournament is Ion Tiriac, and he is known for experimenting and trying out new modifications. In 2012, he decided to change the traditional red clay in favor of the blue clay courts.

A general view as Karen Khachanov of Russia serves to Fernando Verdasco of Spain during day five of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 08, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

However, this decision drew a lot of flack from the players on Tour as the conditions were unfavorable.

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Blue clay courts at Madrid Open were more slippery than red clay courts

One of the prime reasons for finding fault in the blue clay courts was that it was more slippery than the red clay courts. Adding to the players’ woes, the bounce of the ball was highly uneven. Thus, the new change didn’t go down well with the players. 

Here’s what some of the players revealed about the blue clay courts at the Madrid Masters during the 2012 season:

Novak Djokovic: “The only thing that is a little bit disappointing from a player’s standpoint is that this is decided without players agreeing on it. If you don’t have, especially, top players testing the court and agreeing to this change that should mean something. They should have value in what they say.”

Rafael Nadal: “I played much better than I expect. The (blue) court…doesn’t make you feel comfortable. It’s difficult, hard to attack and come back to defend. You just have to try and adapt.”

 
 
 
 
 
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In the 2012 season at the Mutua Madrid Open, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer beat former tennis player Tomas Berdych in the final. It was his third title in Madrid and the 74th title in his career. In women’s, Serena Williams beat Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka in straight sets and was the 41st title in her career. 

Much towards the players’ relief, the blue clay courts were changed in the following season and returned back to the traditional red color. However, the Tiriac was still confident of having the blue-colored courts in the future. 

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Rohan Kollare

607 articles

Rohan Kollare is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. Rohan has a post-graduate diploma in Sports Management and a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering tennis and Formula One.

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