It caught me by surprise when Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made negative public statements against the 2012 Madrid Open two weeks ago following their respective losses. Though their defeats in the third round were uncharacteristic, it was even more uncharacteristic when they pitifully blamed the new surface of the tennis tournament for their losses.
The new blue clay of the Madrid Open might have affected their game style, as it clearly did not allow them to play freely and comfortably like they always do. But there was no need to make comments like “if the tournament keeps the blue clay for next year, I will not come back”. To me, more than complaints about the new surface, their statements sounded like threats to the Madrid Open organizers.
These two tennis players know they are always the biggest attractions in this sport’s events, which make them feel empowered to release such statements. And, in a way, they are. But what they tend to forget is that their number one and three rankings in the world also make fans and organizers expect that they have the abilities and skills to adapt to any type of surface. It may take them time to do so, and the adjustment acquired may not be enough to win the tournament, sometimes. But, at least, it could help them put up a better performance.
Recently, the president of the Madrid Open, Manolo Santana, answered to Nadal and Djokovic’s complaints saying that the blue clay is staying. I completely agree with him, as it is important for the sport organization to have different types of venues and to challenge its players. I just wish Nadal and Djokovic had been more mature about it and taken a bullet for the sport this time by keeping their dislikes to themselves, instead of spoiling the tournament experience for everyone else and hurting the sport they claim to love so much.
It is interesting that Roger Federer won the Madrid Open this year, because I remember that when I went to watch the Ericsson Open in Miami, after Federer won his second round match, he thanked everyone at the stadium “for attending the tennis tournament and supporting the sport”, and I thought that was an excellent message. Federer truly had a great performance at the 2012 Madrid Open from beginning to end, demonstrating that it is all about the mental and physical preparation before tournaments.
- Y gracias por no fumar!
|Blue clay at the 2012 Madrid Open. Picture from ellesse.com|