Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images via Daylife
Rafael Nadal lose on clay? To a guy who’s never beaten him? But that’s impossible! Unless. . .they weren’t really playing on clay?
“If you put the Cincinnati tournament on grass just before the US Open, do you think people are going to be happy? I don’t think so.” Nadal said (via BBC) after his shock 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 loss to Fernando Verdasco on Thursday. “This surface destabilizes the game. It is a completely different game and I don’t want to take risks. If things don’t change, this will be one less tournament on the calendar for me”
Rafa’s not the only one suspicious of Ion Tiriac’s smurf colored litter box. “That’s not tennis,” Djokovic said after trying out the stuff earlier this week. He added after his two set win over Stanislas Wawrinka today:
“They are claiming that the court is exactly the same as red clay, which is not true because there is a big difference. You are tripping, slipping all the time, sliding. The winner will be the one who doesn’t get hurt by the end of the week.”
“It’s a new experience, and the way it looks this year, hopefully the last experience.” (via Tennis.com)
If Rafa’s seeing red, Uncle Toni is seething blue. His remarks after the match amounted to one big “I told you so!” to his nephew (Google translation via Que!)
“I repeatedly told him not to come. . .I even questioned him when we were here training.” But he claimed that Nadal’s “high hopes” of playing in Madrid overrode his concerns that doing so would come at “the expense of (his) health and feel for the game.”
Fernando Verdasco, for one, seems to think the surface is close enough to the red stuff: “After losing so many times against honestly the best player on clay ever, to beat him on clay is the maximum.” he said. (via CBS). Verdasco collapsed to the court in tears after his win.
Uncle Toni’s take on Verdasco’s supposed clay court triumph: “Verdasco was angry with the court in the third set, but now he says that it was the same as last year. We know how the players are, when it goes well we forget all about it.”
REUTERS/Susana Vera via Daylife
Roger Federer, who breezed past his opponent Richard Gasquet on Thursday and goes on to play clay court demon David Ferrer in the quarters, is trying to be understanding: ”I understand (Nadal’s) disappointment. He was against (blue clay) from the start and so was I. He never felt comfortable on the surface. It is a tough surface and that can only add to the anger even more.” (via Tennis.com)
At this point, I’m just hoping the remaining field keeps their wits, tempers, ankles and knees together.