Novak Djokovic has had plenty to say about the blue clay at the Madrid Masters and he was in no mood to change his mind after a minor scare on his first competitive outing on the new surface.
The world No. 1 thought the players should have been consulted on Madrid’s decision to depart from the traditional red clay and the Serbian cut a frustrated figure as he beat Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2 3-6 6-2.
“It’s impossible to move,” he was quoted as telling reporters by AFP. “I hit maybe five balls, the rest went just trying to put the ball into the court.
“I was relying on serve and getting free points from his unforced errors. That was not tennis, either I need football shoes or some advice on how to play on this court.
“I cannot find the words to describe this court. It’s really tough to play like this on a center court. We need serious discussion about the future of this blue clay.
Madrid’s new blue clay court
“We cannot change anything this year, but my first impressions are not good. I don’t want to be the one complaining, but I say honestly what I feel.”
Djokovic’s victory was his first outing since he lost to Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters and his win set up a third round clash with either Jurgen Melzer or Stanislas Wawrinka.
No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych, from the Czech Republic, defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 while Aregntina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, who won the Estoril Open last week, toppled Florian Mayer 6-4 6-2.
There were also victories for French trio Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet.
In the women’s draw the top two seeds, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, both made it safely into round three.
Azarenka, the world No. 1, beat the Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova 6-3 7-6 before having her say on the blue clay surface.
“The surface is a bit slippery, but it’s the same for all of us,” the Belarusian told reporters. “I don’t like to complain — it is what it is and it won’t change now.”
Sharapova, striving to complete a major slam with victory at the French Open later this month, also toppled a Czech opponent, Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-3.
“It’s not so much about the color,” she told a press conference. “It does look good on television. But it plays a bit different.
“It’s about the amount of clay on the court and the way it bounces. I got settled in so it’s just a matter of adjusting. It’s also the same for everyone.”
Serbian Ana Ivanovic, the No. 13 seed, also made it into round three after beating Nadia Petrova, from Russia, 7-5 6-1.