Moya on Madrid: Salt made blue clay slippery
Carlos Moya, the assistant tournament director of the Madrid Open and former world No. 1, writes in El Pais that before he left for a senior tournament in Columbia the week before Madrid began, he and others played on the blue clay and it was fine. However, when he returned on the Monday of the Madrid Masters, he was surprised to find that the courts were playing nothing like they were the week before.
"They had changed," he wrote. "I could not believe what I saw. [Getting traction] was almost impossible and I had rarely seen courts that slid so much, especially in the three main courts."
Moya said that the team eventually discovered that the salt laid down on top of the courts to keep moisture away and the color uniform ended up crystallizing into an unbreakable film—due to too much heat and water—causing the surface to become slippery. It was the same salt used at Roland Garros. "That was discovered too late and we found that what works in Paris doesn't work here, but rather the opposite."
Moya went on to say that the conditions clearly favored offensive players, and that he believes the conditions will improve next year because the courts won't be replaced annually, like they have been in the past.
"But on the negative side and certainly the worst of all, what never should have happened is that it has created a gap between [Rafael] Nadal and the tournament," he said. "I think Rafa needs the tournament in the future, especially those 1,000 points that can be very important to fight for No. 1, but it is undeniable that the tournament needs Nadal. We are talking about the best player in the history of [Spain] and probably the best Spanish athlete of all time, besides being the most charismatic ... I agree that a tournament cannot be based on [one] player, but there must be dialogue. When I was a player, Wimbledon tried to please Henman, the Australian Open Rafter and Hewitt, the U.S. Open Sampras and Agassi. When I say please, I mean to talk mainly about the surface and balls mainly, apart from other issues."
Moya added that the tournament did not attempt to harm anyone, that it can one of the best tournaments in the world and just needs to get rid of some bugs. "The ball is now in the court of the president of the ATP, Brad Drewett, a newcomer to the office, who is to decide whether to continue or return to the blue color of the traditional clay," he wrote. "What a hot potato."