Novak Djokovic critical of Rome Masters' playing surface

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Novak Djokovic critical of Rome Masters' playing surface

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SportsCafe Desk

05/18/2017

World No 2 Novak Djokovic has questioned the quality of the clay surface at the Rome Masters, saying it is not as good as it once was. A four-time winner in Rome, the Serbian former world No 1 said the reason for the problems could be the limited action the courts have seen ahead of the tournament.

The court conditions have come under severe criticism, the NextGen Arena, which is the tournament's outside courts, in particular. Matches have had to be stopped to repair holes in the surface, leaving several players annoyed by the disruption.

Although Djokovic has not played on the NextGen Arena surface, he confirmed that the players were not pleased with the conditions and said even the quality of the centre court has deteriorated compared to a couple of years ago.

"I don't know how NextGen Arena is with the conditions of the court, but I heard not many positive comments about that. Center court also is not as good as it was,” Djokovic was quoted as saying by Tennis.com.

Interruptions aren't the only cause for concern to the players. Nicolas Almagro, who played Rafael Nadal in the first round on centre court, suffered a knee injury and was forced to retire with the score at 3-0. Although there is no evidence that the court played any part in Almagro's injury, Nadal had said after the match that "the manner of his injury was not positive."

"Clay is [a] very delicate surface. In order to get it in the proper state, in order for it to have that solid ground, you need to play at least three months on the court before the tournament starts. It needs to be played more or less regularly, every day. But, you know, unfortunately, traditionally, we have these kinds of issues with courts in Rome. The groundsmen are doing their best," Djokovic explained.

"Nice guys, trying their best. But once a tournament starts there is not much you can do about the court ... The court's foundation has to be built months and months before the tournament starts, and as I understand, they don't play much tennis on the centre court, and neither on the NextGen court," the Serbian added.

"But as I understand, they play only, you know, three, four, five weeks before the tournament, and they don't play regularly. You can't expect to have a good court in that way," he concluded.

Nadal holds the record after winning his eighth straight Monte-Carlo Masters in 2012 and is the only player in the open era to achieve such a feat.

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