Novak Djokovic ripped Madrid officials for installing blue clay courts at the tournament, joking that he needs martial arts legend and Internet hero Chuck Norris to give him the wisdom to play on the unpredictable surface.
The world No. 1 needed three sets to defeat Daniel Gimeo-Traver 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in his Tuesday opener at the Mutua Madrid Open. He looked peeved throughout the match and voiced his frustration about the differently colored courts after:
''To me that's not tennis. Either I come out with football shoes or I invite Chuck Norris to advise me how to play on this court. Center court is impossible to move on. I hit five balls throughout the whole match. With everything else, I was just trying to keep the ball in the court.
''When you slide on the red clay you have a feeling you can stop and recover from that step. But here, whatever you do ... you are always slipping. Not a single player - not woman not man - I didn't hear anyone say 'I like blue clay.'''
Since Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis, I'm sure he can handle a blue court. Also, you know why Madrid's courts are blue? They turned that way after hearing Chuck Norris usually prefers ping-pong.
Both Djokovic and Norris will appear in this summer's "Expendables 2." Djokovic plays someone who fights off bad guys in an airport terminal with his racquet.
Djokovic wasn't done complaining after leaving the press room. Hours after the match, he tweeted his displeasure. "First match on blue clay?" he wrote. "Ouch. Next time I better bring my skates with me. So slippery out there."
Better call Kristi Yamaguchi too.
The controversial color choice has been drawing complaints from top players for weeks. Rafael Nadal was the most vehement in his criticism. "The history of the clay-court season was on red; it wasn't on blue," he said last month in Monte Carlo.
He and Roger Federer will get their first taste of the Smurf courts on Wednesday. Until then, decide for yourself:
I think they look pretty cool and are fine as a once-a-year change of pace. The players' earlier criticism was rooted in traditionalism and a distaste for the color spectrum. If it's about safety and movement, then that's a different story. It's too early to tell whether this is a psychosomatic thing. Is Djokovic angry with the court because it's actually unfit for tennis or does he subconsciously think the court is unfit for tennis because it's blue? This wouldn't be the first clay surface to draw complaints from players (last year's USA-Switzerland Davis Cup match comes to mind). That could be exacerbated because of preconceived beliefs.