Roger Federer has sprung to the support of Rafael Nadal by voicing criticism on the choice of blue clay for the 2012 Madrid Masters tournament despite the objection of Spanish star Rafael Nadal.
“This is a long story, but I find it sad that you have to play on a surface the players don't accept,” Federer said in the wake of his record sixth World Tour Finals title on Sunday.
Tournament organiser Ion Tiriac had been trying for two years to change the colour from the traditional orange/red to blue, saying that the surface was better for television.
“I have between 300 and 500 million viewers. If this helps to show the game better on TV, with all respect, we will do it despite one or two persons (who object),” Tiriac said.
“I have to convince the ATP. There is no rule, there is nothing. The TV is convinced, the fans are convinced, 90 per cent of the players too. It is nothing special, is the same thing we did 30 years ago when we changed the colour at the indoor tournaments.”
The Romanian did the same in the past when the tournament was still played on indoor hard court in Stuttgart, Germany, selecting a blue surface also then. Blue has also been used in other sports in a change from red, such as athletics at the last two World championships in Berlin and Daegu.
Federer said he didn't know whether he should rate the change “positive or negative” but said that organisers should listen to the players.
Nadal, the world's leading player on clay with six Roland Garros titles and the local hero at the Madrid event, disapproved strongly of the change which by now has been approved by the ATP for a one-year trial next May.
“It's a shame because of the history and tradition of this surface,” Nadal recently tweeted.
“I hope I don't have to play one day on blue grass.”
Federer expressed surprise that Nadal's view was not taken into account.
“I find it sad that a player like Rafa, at a tournament on his own country, has had to fight against a surface that does not want to play on,” Federer said.
“I would listen to Rafa on such an issue,” he said.