With Madrid underway, the reviews of the blue clay begin to pour in. Siena, a poster at Querido Rafa’s blog, and Steve Tignor both pointed out that the blue clay makes the court look like a hard court, rather than a clay court. Is this a good thing? Do we want people to forget that this is a clay court?
I say no. I agree with Siena and with Tignor, a clay court should feel like clay. It should have earth tones, because it is, well, earth. Plus, Madrid should keep in mind that many people who do not follow tennis regularly need the color scheme to help them figure out what kind of surface the players are using. Since I only really started watching tennis in 2003, I didn’t realize until 2005 that some matches were played on clay. I stumbled upon the French Open final and was confused as to why they were playing on a red court, but it allowed me to notice that the court was different than other courts. Now, I wouldn’t be a confirmed fan of tennis until later that year, but I noticed that there was something different about the French Open compared to Wimbledon and the US Open. Do we want to get rid of that?
Plus, how much money did they spend on the blue clay, I mean, actually dying the clay blue? I don’t get it.
I also think that this is interesting because it brings up the power structure of the ATP/WTA/Grand Slams/Players which is incredibly convoluted and seems to be under some strain. The Big 3+1 (Andy, win a Grand Slam and you can join the group!) are in a position of great power in the sport, and seem to be interested in using that power for good. As Steve Tignor pointed out, they recently fought for, and received, more money for the players who lose in the first or second rounds of Grand Slams. The French Open and Wimbledon agreed with them. Some of them are also angry about this decision, because the tournament never consulted with the players.
What will come of this? Maybe nothing. But this is something else to watch over the course of Madrid.