'How can I perform in this environment?'

Complaining is name of the game as Djokovic seeks helps from Chuck Norris and Schumacher learns how to drive on raw eggs

    'How can I perform in this environment?'
    Slippin' and slidin': Djokovic has made it clear he and other players are unhappy about new surface [GALLO/GETTY]

    The popular quote is "a poor tradesman always blames his tools", however, it appears even a great sportsman feels warranted to blame their tools from time to time too. 

    Two of the world's best sportsmen - world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic and F1's most successful driver Michael Schumacher - have been talking to the press about their dissatisfaction with their working environment. 

    Both competing in Spain, Schumacher has lashed out strongly against Pirelli's tyres ahead of the Barcelona Grand Prix as Djokovic led the march against the new blue clay surface at the Madrid Open.  

    Djokovic needed three sets to win his first match on the blue clay on Tuesday, and after stepping gingerly around the court stepped up his criticism of the new surface.

    Djokovic laboured to a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain in his debut on the Magic Box's unorthodox surface, after top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and Mario Sharapova both beat Czech opponents to advance in the women's event.

    Djokovic, who had already voiced his opposition to the blue clay, was left fuming over the condition of center court, which he said was completely different to the practice courts he trained on before the event.

    "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"

    Novak Djokovic references American martial arts actor

    "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,'' said Djokovic, who like Rafael Nadal has been critical of the new-look surface.

    "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.''

    The ATP reiterated that the new surface is in a test period this year, and that a decision on whether to use it again will be made after this event.

    The defending champion was cruising until the second set when his 137th-ranked Spanish opponent broke for 2-1.

    Djokovic then made four straight unforced errors in his next service game - including two double faults - to go down 4-1.

    Djokovic complained about the surface throughout, but managed to get his emotions in check and his game together to take a decisive 4-2 lead in the third set before sealing his 25th match win of the season.

    "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,'' said Djokovic, who hit 20 winners to 24 unforced errors.

    "Not a single player - not woman not man - I didn't hear anyone say 'I like blue clay.'''

    No yoke 

    Meanwhile Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher has criticised Pirelli's Formula One tyres saying they make him feel like he is driving on raw eggs.

    The seven times world champion, who has not stood on the podium since he began his comeback in 2010, told CNN in an interview that the Italian tyres were having too much of an effect on racing.

    "They are so peaky and so special that we don't put the cars or ourselves to the limit," he said ahead of this week's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, the start of the European season after four long-haul races.

          Schumacher says drivers are not able to push to their limits on new tires [GALLO/GETTY]

    "We drive like on raw eggs and don't want to stress the tyres at all. Otherwise you just overdo it and then you go nowhere," said the 43-year-old German, who won his titles with Benetton and Ferrari.

    Pirelli replaced Japanese brand Bridgestone as sole supplier at the end of the 2010 season and have been credited for
    livening up the racing with tyres that are less hard-wearing.

    Schumacher, whose team mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg won in China last month for the first victory by a Mercedes works team driver since 1955, had also criticised the tyres after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Formula One's most successful driver had complained then that drivers could not push their cars to the limit because of the need to save the tyres.

    Pirelli responded to the criticism last month with disappointment and pointed out that the former Ferrari driver had seemed happy enough before the season started.

    "Others were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work. His comments during winter testing were that he was very happy with the tyres, and now he seems to have changed his tune," said motorsport director Paul Hembery.

    It is likely that results for Djokovic and Schumacher over the weekend shall dictate whether these complaints grow any louder.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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