Following the controversy and player backlash that stirred up over the use of smurf-coloured clay at the Madrid Open last month, the ATP has announced this weekend that blue courts will be outlawed in 2013.
The bright blue surface, which was only unveiled this year, attracted a wealth of criticism from players including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The colour was blamed for making the tennis balls difficult to see and hit, and the clay itself was deemed too slippery for the elite players to be able to move properly. Although tournament owner Ion Tiriac was adamant that the surface would remain, and also came up with increasingly bizarre ways to improve playability on it such as the introduction of neon tennis balls, on Saturday ATP president and executive chairman Brad Dewett brought an end to the debate – “After careful consideration I have decided blue clay courts will not be allowed next year”.
Referred to as both innovative and irritating in equal parts, the blue coloured clay was introduced at the tournament in a bid to improve court visibility for televised coverage. However an important ATP world tour event wasn’t perhaps the best time to give a new court surface a trial run, particularly one that was such an extreme departure from the surface used at the tournament in previous years. Although innovation and development are important to the ATP, Dewett has said that as far as blue coloured clay goes “it’s clear that further development is required before it can be considered for use at ATP World Tour level.”