Following his shock 6-3 3-6 7-5 defeat to Verdasco in the third round of the 2012 Madrid Open, the player considered to be the world’s greatest on clay courts is threatening to boycott competing at the tournament next year. Citing the tournament’s new bright blue clay courts as a primary factor in his defeat, Nadal’s surprised the world when he announced that “I was not good enough to adapt my game to this court. If things continue like this, it will be very sad. Next year this will be one less event for my calendar”.
Having met and beaten Verdasco a total of 13 times in their previous meetings, this sensational loss has no doubt been a tough blow for the Spaniard to take, particularly since it broke the 22-match winning streak that he has been cultivating since 2011. Despite leading 5-2 in the final set, and with his opponent hitting 9 double-faults, the former world no.2 simply couldn’t pull it off this time blaming the blue court for his inability to move and hit the ball properly. There was, however, no mention of his discomfort at the new coloured court after beating Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets (6-2, 6-2) earlier in the tournament.
Nadal is not the only one to raise issue with the blue clay after suffering unsatisfactory losses. The current world no. 1 Djokovic and other players have commented that its slippery surface makes it “impossible to move”, prompting the women’s world no. 6 Serena Williams to dub them “weenies”. Djokovic, despite his outspoken dissatisfaction with the new court, successfully moved in to the quarter-finals of the tournament along with fellow Big Four member Federer. The Swiss player’s success, coupled with Nadal’s defeat, has meant that he now moves ahead in the rankings taking the world no.2 spot shifting the Spaniard down to the no. 3 spot.
Thanks to his surprising win, Verdasco will go on to face Berdych in the next round, a player who is currently sixth-seeded in the world.