Madrid - The Madrid Open was in danger of losing one of its star attractions for next year's edition after Rafa Nadal threatened to boycott the Masters event in 2013 unless organisers ditch the controversial blue clay courts.
The world number two and French Open champion has joined number one Novak Djokovic and others in attacking the new surface, which organisers argue makes it easier for TV viewers to follow the balls, for being too slippery.
Nadal was dumped out in the third round on Thursday when he was beaten by 15th seed Fernando Verdasco, his 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 after the shock defeat.
“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 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.
Nadal complained that having to play on a surface that is so different to the traditional red clay courts used at other tournaments, including the French Open starting later this month, was too disruptive.
“I think the tournament is great but that is a bad decision,” he said.
“The movements are very important for me and here I cannot move so I cannot hit the ball the way that I want.”
Although the blue clay is extracted from crushed brick, like the traditional red ones, the material is stripped of its iron oxide before being dyed.
The process involved has made the blue court feel much more slicker than the traditional red clay, which are slower.
“If you put the Cincinnati tournament on grass just before the U.S. Open do you think people are going to be happy? I don't think so,” added Nadal.
“That's a similar situation. It's not drastic I am just being consistent.
“I am not prepared to risk something happening next year if nothing changes.
“I am going to Rome now with maybe a bit of a lack of confidence which I don't deserve after all the work I have put in here. The colour has to change and it has to be a proper clay court.” – Reuters