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Madrid's blue clay given red card by ATP

updated 5:57 PM EDT, Sat June 23, 2012
Novak Djokovic was all at sea on the blue clay during the Madrid Masters in May
Novak Djokovic was all at sea on the blue clay during the Madrid Masters in May
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Blue clay used at Madrid Masters this year has been banned by the ATP for all 2013 World Tour events
  • Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic voiced disapproval after losing matches on surface
  • Surface pioneered by former Romanian tennis star and businessman Ion Tiriac

(CNN) -- The blue clay used at this year's Madrid Masters which was severely criticized by world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has been banned from all ATP World Tour events in 2013.

The announcement was made after a meeting of the ATP Board of Directors in London on Saturday.

"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 said in a statement.

"Regardless of color, we must first ensure that courts are safe and fair for players," he added.

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It brings an abrupt end to the use of the surface pioneered by former Romanian tennis star turned businessman Ion Tiriac as a way of improving visibility for television viewers.

"Ion has been a great supporter of the game for many years and I continue to encourage his ideas, including the testing of blue clay at non-ATP World Tour events. At this time, however, it's clear that further development is required before it can be considered for use at the ATP World Tour level," Drewett said.

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The move ensures that both Nadal and Djokovic will return to play in Madrid next year after threatening to boycott the event if the blue clay was retained.

Regardless of color, we must first ensure that courts are safe and fair for players
Brad Drewett, ATP President

After losing to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets on the surface last month, Djokovic said he wanted to "forget this week" and move on to "real" clay courts.

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"It took me at least a week to try to get used to this surface and somehow find a way to win matches and play a decent level of tennis. There is no discussion in my eyes, it's very simple. No blue clay for me," Djokovic said.

Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky also joined the chorus of disapproval tweeting in May that the "blueclay court 6" was "the worst court of @ATPWorldTour."

"Ha! Blue clay.. It looks like something Smurfs would play on," ran another tweet from Croatain Ivo Karlovic.

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