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Toni Nadal sees red over Madrid's blue clay
MADRID (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal's uncle and coach Toni has added his voice to growing criticism of the Madrid Open's blue clay courts, and hit out at tournament owner Ion Tiriac and the men's tour organizers the ATP over the switch from the traditional red dirt.
World number two Nadal, who was knocked out in the third round by Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, and number one Novak Djokovic have complained the blue clay is too slippery and have threatened to boycott the Masters event next year unless the red surface is reinstated.
"The fact that the ATP gave permission for this tournament is an outrage," Toni Nadal told Spanish radio.
"One of the highlights of Rafa's year is playing in Madrid and what has happened is that this event puts the Spanish players, who are more (traditional) clay players, at a disadvantage," he added.
"So you say 'I want to play in Madrid but not at the cost of my health nor at the cost of losing my feeling on the court'."
Toni said that once he and his nephew, who had been chasing a third consecutive claycourt title of the season, had arrived in the Spanish capital, and trained on the blue courts, he had advised him to pull out.
"If he had listened to me he wouldn't have played this year," he said, before criticizing Tiriac, a Romanian former player turned promoter who has masterminded the innovation.
Tiriac argues that the blue courts make it easier for television viewers to follow the yellow balls.
"How much power must this guy have if they let him change the customs and habits of the players," Toni Nadal said.
"But the main culprit is the ATP," he added.
"He can do what he wants at his own tournament, but the ATP should not have given him permission and I expect them to withhold it next year."
The ATP has said the blue courts are a one-year experiment and a decision will be taken on whether to keep them for 2013 once all feedback has been considered.
(Editing by Ossian Shine)
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