Eventually the sky turned blue to match the courts and by then Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic were all winners on the third day of action at the MutuaMadrid Open at the futuristic Caja Majica.
The talk was all about the blue clay, but it seemed to have minimal impact on the way players performed although everyone agreed that it was slippery, especially when dry.
"You just have to work on your balance a bit more," said a relaxed Sharapova who had completed her 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Czech, Klara Zakopalova, under the roof of the Manolo Santana Stadium.
"The color is fine, it looks good," said Sharapova who came here following a confidence-boosting win over Azarenka in the Stuttgart final two weeks ago. "It does feel a bit different playing-wise. It feels different in terms of the amount of clay that's on the court, especially during the first couple of days of practice. But now I feel it has gotten better and settled down a little bit."
Raonic, the strapping 21-year-old Canadian who seems to take life in his massive stride, dispatched the veteran Argentine, David Nalbandian, 6-4, 6-4 and agreed that there was nothing much wrong with the court.
"It's the altitude here which makes the biggest difference and obviously that suits me," Raonic said.
The fact that Nalbandian, generally regarded as one of the best returners of serve in the world, did not win a single point off the Canadian's first serve -- 27 in all -- and precious few off his second, backed up that statement and now it will be Roger Federer's turn to see what he can make of it. Raonic lost to Federer the last time at Indian Wells they met but he is not going to be overawed.
"Roger Federer has set the bar higher for all players with what he has achieved and obviously I respect that," said Raonic. "But I am not going to respect him too much. When we play he will be just another player on the other side of the net trying to take away from me something that I want."
Raonic, who stands 6-foot-6, has a massive game. But it will be this cool, even cold-eyed, attitude towards his tennis that will take him to the top. Providing he stays free of injury there will be nothing to stop him hitting the world's top six by the end of the year.
Like del Potro, who outplayed Florian Mayer of Germany 6-4, 6-2, Roanic had little problem with the court despite his height because he was attacking and in charge of the rallies. Slipperi-ness will only become a problem for players who are on the defensive, running deep behind their baselines. That is why we have been hearing negative comments from Rafael Nadal, who will be playing Nikolay Davydenko on Wednesday. The Russian, still a very clean hitter of the ball, will make Nadal run and it will be fascinating to see how Rafa handles a situation he obviously does not relish.
Azarenka took care of the Czech qualifier Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 7-6 after she had her momentum interrupted by her opponent's very long injury timeout to have a thigh strapped. But, more impressively, a former world No 1, Ana Ivanovic, recovered from an early loss of the serve in the first set to beat the experienced Russian Nadia Petrova 7-5, 6-1. Ivanovic will play Azarenka next.