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Djokovic's no to blue Madrid surface

Novak Djokovic on Friday declared war on the Madrid Masters’ controversial blue clay, with the world No 1 charging that double-dealing by a former ATP chief was the cause of this week’s player revolt.


Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic during their Madrid Masters quarters match late on Friday. Pic/AFP

Defending champion Djokovic went down 24 hours after the exit of Rafael Nadal, losing in the quarter-finals to Serb compatriot Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7/2), 6-3. Djokovic mentioned no names in his broadside, but left little doubt he blames former chief executive Adam Helfant for the debacle.

“I don’t blame the new president (Australian former player Brad Drewett),” said a fuming Djokovic. “He came to the job in January. It was the last president. He was going away and knew his contract was not renewed. He made the decision on his own.

“Something was going on behind closed doors, he (Helfant) didn’t care about tennis and what the players thought. He was only interested in himself and his interests.” Djokovic’s fighting words were stronger than any uttered a day earlier by Nadal, who said that he would not play again on the slippery blue clay.

“One side won and the other side lost. The loser this week are the players and their opinions. They (ATP) made the decision without players agreeing on it, this is a rule that has to be changed immediately.

“The tournament has done its job and represented its own interests,” he said of the blue courts which have proved to be successful for television viewing. “This is an example of how our system does not work in favour of players.

“I hope the ATP will strongly consider what players feel and think. If it has protection for the players in mind, there is no way that Madrid is going to keep the blue clay. “There is no discussion in my mind — no blue clay for me.”

Azarenka, Serena in final
Meanwhile, in the women’s category, Victoria Azarenka booked place in a second straight final at the Madrid Masters after stretching her 2012 winning streak over Agnieszka Radwanska to six matches this season with a 6-2, 6-4 victory on Saturday.

The world No 1 will play for her fifth title of the season when she takes on No 9 seed Serena Williams, a 7-6 (7/5), 6-0 winner over Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka. Azarenka has tasted victory in just one of seven matches with Williams, who won their last meeting at the 2011 US Open. 

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