Federer shows sanity as others lose their heads


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There is a right way and a wrong way to complain.

At the Madrid Masters, the tennis action seemed to be almost incidental to the debate off the court about the blue clay.

Rafael Nadal said it was only fit for smurfs, Novak Djokovic suggested he should call Chuck Norris for tips on how to play on it. Both arrived in Madrid complaining, continued complaining during the event, before exiting the tournament complaining.

"Never again" they both said after their uncharacteristically early defeats.  They made it clear in no uncertain terms that if the blue clay was back in Madrid in 2013 then they wouldn't be.

Roger Federer wasn't a huge fan of the blue clay either. Like others he found it difficult to move on the surface, but unlike Nadal and Djokovic, he didn't throw his toys out of the pram.

"Madrid has taken a gamble with blue clay. It's always a little different here because of the altitude and we must sit down with the other players to discuss it," he said midway through the tournament.

"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."

Calm, reasoned, diplomatic.

It is surely no coincidence that the winner of both the men's and women's tournament (Serena Williams) refused to join any choruses to boycott the tournament despite both admitting that the conditions were far from ideal, although Serena couldn't resist going a little too far by calling the men who complained "weenies."

The blue clay in Madrid proved to be a mistake because the courts were not fit for purpose but that doesn't mean it was a bad idea per se.

Tennis has always been a sport that has evolved and tried new things — often to the benefit of the game.

Madrid Masters chief Ion Tiriac has taken a lot of stick for his choice of court but he did make a decent point when he said: "The tiebreak, yellow balls, Hawk-eye - every change was a storm in a glass of water."

Courts have often changed too: the first 93 years of the US Open were played on grass; the Australian Open was a grass court event as recently as 1987; and it was only in 2008 that it changed again from Rebound Ace hard courts to Plexicushion.

It is a big turn-off when you see a top sports star bleating about every little thing not being to their liking. People who work long hours in low-paying jobs that they hate are unlikely to have much sympathy for moaning millionaires.

Does this mean that they should just sit back and let organisers do what they want? Of course not, but you are going to have a lot more traction articulating your complaints in the way that Federer did than showing the downright indignation expressed by Nadal and Djokovic.

Federer was the victor on the court last week but once again it was his class off it that really impressed.

His main two rivals may have matched or even surpassed his current level of ability but they can still learn a lot from the Swiss master.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Take it away Serena Williams: "Women are way tougher than men. That's why we have the babies, you guys could never handle kids. We ladies don't complain we just do our best. On the WTA (tour) we are real performers, we are not about going out there and being weenies."

AWFUL TENNIS STAR'S ATTEMPT AT LAUNCING A MUSICAL CAREER OF THE WEEK: Oh dear, Serena, you were doing so well. Stick to the sound-byte friendly tennis chat and leave the rapping alone.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: We still rate Serena's singing effort as being slightly better than Caroline Wozniacki's charity effort from earlier this year. Wozniacki though did show she was true a Liverpool fan this week by mocking the pain of her Manchester United supporter boyfriend — golf superstar Rory McIlroy: "So funny seeing @McIlroyRory being extremely happy thinking Man Utd had won the league, to then suddenly become really really quiet..."

TWEET RORY MCILROY WANTED TO WRITE IN REPLY BUT DIDN'T: "So funny seeing @CaroWozniacki being extremely happy being world number one, to then suddenly become really really quiet when she dropped to number eight..."

MOST RANDOM PRIZE WON BY FEDERER SINCE JULIETTE THE COW: Actor Will Smith presented Roger Federer with Smith's suit worn in "Men in Black III" after the final of the Madrid Masters.

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