|Several tennis players, including Rafael Nadal, complained about the blue clay featured at the Madrid Masters tournament in May. (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP)
LONDON - The ATP Tour has decided to ban blue clay for next season.
The blue clay made its debut at the stop in Madrid, replacing the traditional red dirt, and many players, including superstars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, complained.
"After careful consideration, I have decided that blue clay courts will not be allowed next year," said ATP Executive Chairman & President Brad Drewett in a statement on Saturday. "I very much believe in innovation and exploring ways to enhance our sport. While the blue clay may have offered better visibility on television, there were clearly issues with the quality of the courts in Madrid this year, which were not acceptable at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, one of our top events worldwide. Regardless of color, we must first ensure that courts are safe and fair for players."
The ATP granted permission to the Madrid Open to use blue clay for the 2012 event only, with the stipulation that it would be evaluated after the tournament.
Both Nadal and Djokovic were unhappy with the court conditions in Madrid and voiced their opinions after losses during the week. Nadal, a two-time Madrid champ, was beaten in the third round by Fernando Verdasco, while 2011 champion Djokovic exited with a quarterfinal loss to Janko Tipsarevic.