Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tennis: Djokovic vows to boycott Madrid Open next year after on-court blues

Novak Djokovic joined Rafael Nadal in declaring he won't play again on the new blue-clay court at the Madrid Open after losing 7-6 6-3 to Janko Tipsarevic in an all-Serb quarter-final yesterday.

It was Tipsarevic's second win in five matches against Djokovic, who last lost at this stage in November at the Paris Masters.

Nadal was beaten by Fernando Verdasco on Thursday. He said later he wouldn't return unless the tournament reverts to red clay. Djokovic said the same.

"I want to forget this week as soon as possible and move on to the real clay courts," Djokovic said. "Here you can't predict the ball bounce or movement. They can do whatever they want, but I won't be here next year if it is like this."

Tipsarevic will now play either Roger Federer or fifth-seeded David Ferrer. While Djokovic had little trouble holding serve early on, Tipsarevic saved four break points to force the first-set tie-breaker.

The seventh-seeded Tipsarevic broke the defending champion early in the second set, closing it out after Djokovic had saved three match points.


Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro served 10 aces in beating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3 6-4. The Argentinian will play Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals.

The six-seeded Berdych won 6-1 6-2 over Verdasco, who made 24 unforced errors and showed little of the flair on display against Nadal.

On the women's side, Serena Williams brushed aside second-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals along with top-ranked Victoria Azarenka. Williams opened strongly, serving six aces and earning two early breaks to take the first set.

Sharapova finally showed some fight and broke to love to level at 2-2 in the second set, but she quickly squandered her break with a costly sixth double fault to fall behind and ultimately lose to Williams for the seventh straight match.

Williams, who improved to 11-0 on clay this year, will face Lucie Hradecka after the Czech upset US Open champion Sam Stosur 7-6 7-6.

Azarenka overcame a shaky start to beat French Open winner Li Na 3-6 6-3 6-3. The winner of four titles this season and last year's runner-up in Madrid also criticised the court's surface.

"You feel unstable sometimes. Actually, a lot of times," she said. "But right now there is no point on talking about it. After the tournament all the players can get together and discuss it."

The Belarusian will next face fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-4 6-4.

Irish Independent

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