Daria Kasatkina bluntly shuts down proposal to return blue clay courts

Kasatkina doesn't think that playing on blue clay courts ever again is a good idea.

by Dzevad Mesic
Daria Kasatkina bluntly shuts down proposal to return blue clay courts
© Getty Images Sport - Katelyn Mulcahy

World No. 11 Daria Kasatkina is definitely not in favor of blue clay courts returning ever again as the Russian tennis star says only those who have never experienced playing on blue clay courts can think that they are better than traditional red clay courts.

In 2012, Ion Tiriac - who at the time was the owner of the Madrid Masters - wanted to try something different and he came up with the idea to have blue clay courts for the 2012 Madrid edition. At the time, Tiriac defended his decision by explaining how that would improve ball visibility and that TV viewers would have a much easier time watching matches. 

Madrid Open blue courts 2012
Madrid Open blue courts 2012© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

But Tiriac's experiment went pretty much horribly wrong as Madrid's blue clay courts were drawing immense criticism and backlash throughout. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were among the loudest critics, with both threatening they would not return to the tournament in 2013 if the surface was not reverted to traditional red clay. 

A month after the 2012 Madrid Masters concluded, the ATP announced blue clay courts would not be allowed in 2013. Since then, there haven't been any attempts to try with a blue clay court again.

"Has enough time passed to allow me to say that I personally think the blue clay tennis courts looked far better than the red clay tennis courts and I would fully welcome an attempt to bring it back?" Scott Barclay wrote on X.

Responding to the post, Kasatkina wrote: "Only after you try to play on it."

Kasatkina agrees blue clay courts should not be used again

Kasatkina, who is now 26 years old, didn't play in Madrid during the blue clay courts tournament edition. But the criticism and backlash from players was so strong that year that it doesn't need much for one to understand that it was extremely difficult and tricky for the majority of players to play on blue clay courts. 

Nadal - widely considered the greatest clay-court player in tennis history - had a very hard time adapting to blue clay courts. That year, Nadal won his opening match before getting bounced by Fernando Verdasco in the 2012 Madrid round-of-16.

“It’s impossible to move,” Nadal said when the 2012 Madrid edition started.

“I cannot find the words to describe this court. It’s really tough to play like this on a center court. We need serious discussion about the future of this blue clay.

“We cannot change anything this year, but my first impressions are not good. I don’t want to be the one complaining, but I say honestly what I feel.”

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Getty Images Sport - Jasper Juinen

After suffering a shock loss to Verdasco, Nadal fired a warning to the ATP and Madrid Masters. 

"If things continue like this, it will be very sad. Next year this will be one less event for my calendar," Nadal said.

Djokovic, Roger Federer & Serena Williams on Madrid's blue clay courts

Just like Nadal, Djokovic also lost in Madrid that year earlier than expected. After overcoming Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Stan Wawrinka in two tight contests, Djokovic's 2012 Madrid run ended with a 6-7 (2) 3-6 quarterfinal loss to Janko Tipsarevic.

"They are claiming that the court is exactly the same as red clay, which is not true because there is a big difference," Djokovic said at the time. 

"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." 

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Jasper Juinen

After his exit, Djokovic also threatened to skip Madrid in 2013 if the blue clay courts returned. 

Meanwhile, Federer - who won his third Madrid title that year after beating Milos Raonic in the final 3-6 7-5 7-5 - acknowledged the courts were "slippy" but wasn't criticizing it anywhere as near as Nadal and Djokovic did. 

"It is slippy, there's no doubt about that but that has been the case here for a few years. They haven't yet found the perfect balance. Our job each day is to adapt to the conditions that we face," Federer said at the time.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer© Getty Images Sport - Jasper Juinen

One player who really loved the blue clay courts was Williams, who won the title that year with only one lost set. When asked that year about players complaining about the courts, Williams shaded some colleagues: "We ladies don’t complain, we just do our best. On the WTA, we are real performers, we are not about going out there and being weenies.”

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

In the end, the ATP did react and Madrid's blue clay courts were banned from returning.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that blue clay courts will not be allowed next year. I very much believe in innovation and exploring ways to enhance our sport. While the blue clay may have offered better visibility on television, there were clearly issues with the quality of the courts in Madrid this year …” Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett announced in 2012 June. 

Daria Kasatkina