11th May, 2012
World number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the Madrid Masters on Friday, losing 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to Serb compatriot Janko Tipsarevic.
Djokovic’s quarter-final defeat comes a day after world number two Rafael Nadal was defeated by fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the third round.
Tipsarevic earned only his second career win against Djokovic, who beat him last February in a quarter-final in Dubai.
He claimed the 61-minute opening set on a tiebreaker, then remained collected as Djokovic saved three match points in the eighth game of the second set before losing a game later as Tipsarevic came through on his fourth opportunity.
Tipsarevic will now face Roger Federer in the semi-final for a place in the finals. Federer beat David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 in the last match last night.
In the second semi-final pairing, Juan Del Potro will face Tomas Berdych.
In post match comments, Djokovic reiterated his disaffection with the Madrid Masters’ controversial blue clay, with the world number one charging that double-dealing by a former ATP chief was the cause of this week’s player revolt.
Djokovic mentioned no names in his broadside, but left little doubt he blames former chief executive Adam Helfant for the debacle.
“I don’t blame the new president (Australian former player Brad Drewett),” said a fuming Djokovic.
“He came to the job in January. It was the last president. He was going away and knew his contract was not renewed. He made the decision on his own.
“Something was going on behind closed doors, he (Helfant) didn’t care about tennis and what the players thought. He was only interested in himself and his interests.”
Earlier Friday, Helfant said that the newly-formed competition committee of the ATP decided in 2011 to go ahead with the project after requiring Madrid officials to meet a series of stringent scientific requirements concerning the safety of any chemicals used in the blue clay.
Djokovic’s fighting words were stronger than any uttered a day earlier by Nadal, who said that he would not play again on the slippery blue clay.
Officials had explained that while a decision on 2013 has not been made, the blue courts will remain on site and will have time to develop the characteristics of any other classic clay surface.
Djokovic would not be swayed: “One side won and the other side lost. The loser this week are the players and their opinions. They (ATP) made the decision without players agreeing on it, this is a rule that has to be changed immediately.
“The tournament has done its job and represented its own interests,” he said of the blue courts which have proved to be successful for television viewing.
“I can’t blame the event for fighting for its own rights. The fault is from the people who gave them permission. We discussed this in 2011 – we were more than clear we didn’t want it.
“This is an example of how our system does not work in favour of players.
“I hope the ATP will strongly consider what players feel and think. If it has protection for the players in mind, there is no way that Madrid is going to keep the blue clay.
“There is no discussion in my mind – no blue clay for me.”