World of Sport

Quotes of the Week: “Blue clay is only fit for smurfs”

World of Sport

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Nadal throws away his towel before his toys exit the pram

Rafael Nadal led the calls for a boycott of the controversial blue clay used at the Madrid Masters after he was defeated in disgust by Fernando Verdasco.

"If you put the Cincinnati tournament on grass just before the US Open, do you think people are going to be happy? I don't think so," Nadal said.

"I am not prepared to risk something happening next year if nothing changes. I am going to Rome now with maybe a bit of a lack of confidence which I don't deserve after all the work I have put in here. The colour has to change and it has to be a proper clay court.

"The only thing that I know is that if things continue like this I am very sad, but next year will be one less tournament in my calendar. I tried my best to prepare but I wasn't good enough to adapt my game to this court. Here I cannot move so I cannot hit the ball the way that I want.

"The ATP and the tournament can do what they want... it is too slippery and (only fit) for smurfs (to) play on."

What Nadal didn't say this week: "Vamos!"

Toni Nadal added a tirade of his own: "The fact that the ATP gave permission for this tournament is an outrage.

""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'. If he had listened to me he wouldn't have played this year.

"How much power must this guy (tournament promoter Ion Tiriac) have if they let him change the customs and habits of the players? But the main culprit is the ATP. 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."

Novak Djokovic was not too happy either: "They are saying it's exactly the same as the red clay which is not true because there is a big difference. You are tripping and slipping and sliding all the time and the winner will be the one who doesn't get hurt until the end of the week because a lot of players fell down. Generally it's a new experience and the way it looks this year hopefully the last experience."

More from the irate Djokovic: "I hit five balls throughout the whole match. For me that's not tennis. Either I come up with the football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me on how I should play on this court. I haven't heard a single player, not man or woman, saying they like blue clay. This tournament and this decision to change to the blue clay is an example of players not being considered and heard, and their opinions being ignored - so I really hope that this is going to change in the future."

Nadal's vanquisher Verdasco was unsurprisingly fine with the surface. "Of course I am unbelievably happy and it's the biggest victory of my career," he said. "It was unbelievable emotion and I will never forget it. It was a long time losing [to Nadal], many years, and finally I did it here in Madrid so you can imagine how happy I am."

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There was also a rather controversial boxing fight promoted earlier this week, as David Haye and Dereck Chisora's bout at Upton Park was sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.

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An iron fence was 'necessary' to keep the boxers apart

The British Boxing Board of Control took a very dim view of the whole matter. "This is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the decision of the stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control, in respect of Dereck Chisora, for monetary gain," it said. "Those behind this proposal are not concerned with the interests of the sport of professional boxing... any member who participates in such a promotion would bring the sport of boxing into disrepute and would wholly undermine the authority of the British Boxing Board of Control."

Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was equally dismissive of the whole situation. "It's a freak show under freak rules. It's a spit in the face of the British Boxing Board of Control. To get a licence for this man (Chisora) is disgraceful for the sport. It's something that isn't good for the fans and sport. How's it possible that this is happening on British soil?"

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World Snooker boss Barry Hearn at the snooker awards: "No one will stand in my way. They're up against Bazza, and Bazza doesn't f*** up."

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe: "I love the club. Everybody knows that. When I'm out and people ask whether I am leaving I always say no. But how can I stay somewhere that I don't get the chance to play?"

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny: "It can happen that a grain of sand falls in the machine, and the machine stalls; then you start to have doubts about your qualities, your club, your coach, everything. We had to put the house back in order and everyone did their bit."

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure ahead of a potential title triumph this weekend: "That's why I came here... to help the club go forward and make it bigger than any club in the world."

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In happier times...

Former Sweden, Coventry, Celtic and Chelsea goalkeeper Magnus Hedman on almost committing suicide after blowing £5 million on prostitutes and cocaine: "Today, my economy's very bad. I can't give you an exact figure, but I've burned everything that's not in pension funds. I felt bad for many, many years in a way I never thought possible.  I thought several times to take my life — and I got really, really close at one point."

Venkatesh Rao of Blackburn owners Venky's: "It's bound to happen when someone loses that somebody criticises. We have to come out of this situation. Nobody is to be blamed."

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