Djokovic rips into former ATP CEO Helfant
No. 1 Novak Djokovic lays into former ATP CEO Adam Helfant for agreeing to allow Madrid Masters tournament owners to install blue clay this year. Djokovic and others have complained that the surface is too slippery.
"They made a decision without the players agreeing on it so this is a rule that has to be changed immediately," Djokovic told reporters after he lost to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic in Friday's quarterfinals. "The tournament have done their job, they represent their own interests so I cannot blame them. They are fighting for their own rights. The fault is from the people who gave them permission to do these things. This is just a clear example of how our system does not work in favor of players. It was the last president [Helfant] who made the decision. It's very simple. He was going away, he knew his contract was not being renewed so he made this decision on his own ... he didn't really care about tennis, about what the players think."
Helfant stepped down as ATP CEO last December and was replaced by Australian Brad Drewett.
Helfant told reporters in Madrid that he gave the tournament the go ahead only after receiving assurances the blue courts would play the same as red clay. He added that he consulted the players and tournament officials and because they could not agree, he made the tie-breaking vote
"The blue courts look terrific on TV," said Helfant. "The ATP has a responsibility to expand the fan base and increase revenue. That doesn't mean the ATP should throw tradition out of the window but if you don't try it, if you don't have innovation, you have no chance at all."