Tennis - The Blue Clay controversy - your thoughts?

At first, I thought Nadal and Djokovic were being whiners about the blue clay in Madrid, but then…both lost matches they should have won. I mean, Nadal losing on clay is a pretty weird occurence, especially so early on.

Both Nadal and Djoker are pretty much saying they won’t play the event next year if the blue clay is back. Their main arguments seem to be that:

  • It is super slippery, much more than the regular clay

  • It is harder for them to see the ball properly

What do you think?

Meanwhile, Federer slides right into the semifinals.

Isn’t it equally slippery and hard to see for all competitors? They might not like playing on it, but what is the controversy?

Is this similar to the complaints about the new soccer ball they were using in the world cup?

The ball thing seems weird. I always heard that the reason they went from white balls to yellow ones, was because it stood out the best against blue hard-court courts. Isn’t that also the reason they switched to blue clay in the first place? Because the visibility of the balls is better.

On the other hand: blue clay is just wrong.

Actually, they switched to yellow balls long before they switched to blue courts, but yes, yellow balls are supposed to be easier to see and yellow against blue is the ideal.

To be fair to the more vocal whiners, most of the players have talked about the overly slippery clay, but Djokovic really made an ass of himself about it.

They were told it would be the same as the red clay. They are concerned it will cause injuries.

You might think of it as if there were a “lid” on a basketball hoop that would randomly close, blocking the basket. Yes, all players are playing with the same setup, but the change increases randomness. This might be in the same vein; introducing a different color contrast could make seeing the ball harder which could happen intermittently, thus increasing variance. Just a guess.

Everybody has to play on the new surface, but the changes may not suit everybody’s game equally well. If you changed the composition of clay courts so that they played exactly like a hardcourt, everybody would have to deal with it but it would benefit hardcourt players and hurt guys who were better on the “old” clay courts. (In real life Wimbledon has played a bit more like a grass court since they changed the type of grass.) I don’t buy this stuff about not being able to see the ball, but the surface is supposed to be slippery and the players don’t like that. They also don’t like the fact that the tournament changed its surface (probably just for the publicity) and they had no say even though they’re the ones who have to deal with the change.

Maybe this is the part I’m having trouble understanding. How is it random? The court is either “slippery” or it isn’t. Each individual shot won’t be random from the one before it on the same surface, right?

I’m thinking that “not seeing the ball right” is a random event that happens depending on the type/angle of the shot and your location on the court. Pure speculation on my part.

That seems reasonable. We’ll have to wait until someone more knowledgable about the issue chimes in.

Federer has just replaced Nadal as number 2 in the world.

I bet Nadal is feeling…really blue!

At this point in their careers, I bet the only number these guys really care about are their Grand Slam totals. Bet Roger would take being out of the top 10 if it meant getting the French this year (completing a double career GS).

I don’t understand how the color could create any problems seeing the ball at particular angles, but I also haven’t seen that specific objection. I’ve just seen complaints about the feel of the surface. It’s not as if these guys don’t play on blue courts. The hard courts have been blue for years.

Federer’s goals this year are the Olympics and the majors. Anything else is much further down the list. I’m sure he would like to get back to #1 and break that record but I think he realized a couple of years ago that it was probably not going to happen.

I hate when players complain about things not pertinent to their performance, but in this case, it seems obvious that the tennis surfaces they were playing on were not up to par. I mean, these are two of the game’s greatest players both not playing up to their capabilities. There has to be some truth to their argument, no?

Maybe. It is banned next year, so back to normal.