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Djokovic Blames Former ATP President Helfant For Madrid Open Blue Clay Debacle
Published May 14, 2012
BLAME GAME:FOXSPORTS.com's Richard Evans noted it was "ironic" that Helfant had flown in to be feted along with two other former ATP Chairs -- Mark Miles and Etienne de Villiers -- because it was Helfant "who took the brunt of Djokovic's criticism." Helfant said, "We asked for rigorous tests to be taken to make sure there were no toxic substances being used in the manufacture of the blue clay. And we got those assurances. So I took the decision." Janko Tipsarevic, who ousted Djokovic in the quarterfinals Friday, said, "It's not the color that is the problem. The guys in the locker room are not complaining about the blue. It is just very, very slippery. The bounce is normal and nice. It is just very tough to defend. That's why Rafa and Novak, the two best players at turning defense into attack, have had problems" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/11). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, “This is players whining right now. It’s the Madrid Open, for goodness sake. We wouldn’t be talking about it if they didn’t have a different surface to play. Blue clay? Sounds interesting to me.” However, Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “This is not tennis whining. This is a tournament these guys play because they’re trying to get ready for the French Open. ... It’s one they could easily skip if they don’t want to play on this surface, which has them sliding all over the place" ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 5/11).
NEW CHALLENGES: ESPN.com's Matt Wilansky writes, "What the cynical competitors should understand is this: Everyone is on equal footing (pun apology) and that adversity, believe it or not, is part of the game. If anything, court surfaces have become so homogenous in recent years that this could be looked at as a new challenge" (ESPN.com, 5/13). In London, Paul Newman noted Madrid Open Owner Ion Tiriac "gave no indication that he had any intention of reverting to red clay, which the leading two men insist he must do if they are to return." Tiriac Friday "apologised for the condition of the courts but said it was nothing to do with their colour." He said that the courts had been "pressed too hard, preventing the clay from penetrating the hard base" (London INDEPENDENT, 5/12).