Nadal slams Madrid pretensions as rich new Masters event

May 10th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Madrid, May 10 (DPA) The new Madrid Masters tennis got the seal of disapproval from World No.1 Rafael Nadal.
From the bounce of the new clay courts to the high altitude of the city to the idea of even considering blue clay courts, the tradition-minded king of clay was not shy to voice his dissent. The event is the richest men’s and women’s event apart from the four Grand Slams

Madrid’s 500-metre altitude is problematic to players who have spent a month close to sea level, with the ball flying much faster at height. And with the event ending less than a week before the start of the French Open, the adjustment could be a huge ask.

The top seed arrived for a preliminary hit at the new facility, which features three covered courts - more than any Grand Slam.

“The facility’s good, but things are a little disorderly,” he said of the huge complex which still resembles a building site in many corners.

“The bounce is complicated. I trained on Friday and had a lot of bad bounces on the courts.”

But Nadal saved his most withering candour for the idea - since knocked back by the ATP - of playing matches on blue courts.

The event, which several seasons ago brought on teenaged models and trained them as ball girls, had hoped to make another public relations splash.

But the enthusiasm was reigned in, with the ATP allowing only one men’s practice court to be kitted out in the extremely non-traditional colour.

Four-time French Open winner Nadal knows how he likes his clay courts - orange.

“It is the perfect colour, I’m totally against blue,” said the 22-year-old.

“The colour of Earth is historical, clay is red, not blue. Tennis not only is show-business, it has more value than that including history and tradition. Some things should just remain the same.

“We have to consider that we are just one week away from the start of Roland Garros.”

Nadal did admit that the 7.2-million-euro event at the Magic Box arena featuring covered courts of 12,000, 3,500 and 2,550 capacity is impressive.

“I don’t doubt that the facilities are of the best ones than on the circuit,” said Nadal, who won his fourth title in Rome last weekend.

“But this altitude is a serious problem so close to Paris. It would be better if Rome were the last event before Paris since the altitudes are similar.”

Nadal laughed off the dreams Madrid impresario Ion Tiriac has of possibly converting the event into a “fifth Grand Slam” at some point with Madrid now in the bidding for the 2016 Olympics.

“There are four Grand Slams, not five,” said Nadal. “Madrid is a great venue but tradition says there are only four majors. Madrid is great - but so are Rome and Monte Carlo.”

As women’s first round play began, third seed Elena Dementieva hammered American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second round, while Russian eighth seed Nadia Petrova advanced as Czech Iveta Benesova retired trailing 6-0, 2-1.

Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak shocked 11th seed Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon finalist, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

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