World No.2 Novak Djokovic was among many players to have criticized the court conditions at the Rome Open and especially the tournament’s next venue – the NextGen Arena.
Play has been stopped on the court to repair holes, and Djokovic confirmed that players were unhappy with the surface. He further added that the quality of the court has dropped as compared from two 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,” Djokovic told reporters in Rome. “Center court also is not as good as it was.”
The Serb added that such problems tended to arise on the stadium courts in Rome because of lack of play before the tournament.
“Clay is a very delicate surface,” he said. “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 kind of issues with courts in Rome. The grounds men are doing their best.”
“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 center court, and neither on the NextGen Court.”
“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.”
Speculations about player injuries being caused due to the court came into the limelight when Nicolas Almagro retired from his match against Rafael Nadal. “The manner of his injury was not positive,” said Nadal.
It would be interesting to see what happens as the tournaments get deeper.