Novak Djokovic has explained his issue with the courts at the Rome Masters. The six-time champion in Italy complained there was too much clay during his first two matches of the tournament. And he has now urged bosses to call in experts from the French Open after claiming they were used 10 years ago.
Djokovic has already had his best clay tournament of the year so far in Rome, as he won back-to-back matches over Tomas Etcheverry and Grigor Dimitrov. But the top seed still faced some trouble in the matches – going a break down in his opening round and dropping a set to Dimitrov.
And in both matches, the Serb aired his grievances over the court – claiming there was too much clay and asking for the baseline to be swept. Djokovic has now clarified the issue with the courts as he called on the tournament boss to bring in French Open experts.
“I mean, Rome never had a great reputation for the quality of the court, to be honest with you,” he said after advancing to the round-of-16. “Even though I know all the guys, Marco is the chief of staff of the guys who are taking care of the courts. I consider them friends. I’ve known them for 15 years, and I get along with them very well. Again, I cannot blame them for this.”
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The 35-year-old then explained that he thought there wasn’t enough play on the courts ahead of the tournament, making the quality worse. He continued: “What is interesting would be to understand how much tennis they’re playing on the court actually before the tournament starts. I think the other year I was asking, and they were not playing much at all. They played pre-qualies.
“If you don’t use the court, and you have a clay court, these things happen. The court breaks. You have many holes. You have uneven surface, really bad bounces, a lot of clay.” While Djokovic said the problems were part and parcel of playing on the dirt, he urged tournament officials to call in the French Open experts as they did 10 years ago.
“Look, it’s part of the clay court season, so we have to accept the fact that you’re going to have lots of uneven, irregular bounces,” he said. “In Rome, it has been happening quite a few years.
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“Actually I remember maybe about 10 years, someone told me they brought Roland Garros people in, and that year the court was best. I don’t know why they don’t call them again because obviously they’re the best clay court specialists in the world.”
But Djokovic conceded that it was tough to change the courts, sharing his hope for them to improve as the tournament went on. “Now there’s really not much you can do. It’s just kind of covering the holes here and there. Yeah, I guess that’s a reality that you just have to I guess accept. Hopefully as the days pass and the tournament progresses, the court will get better,” he concluded.
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