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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, May 3, 2024

Taylor Fritz slipped out of the Madrid semifinals.

After bowing to Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3 in today's Mutua Madrid Open semifinals, Fritz cited two stumbling blocks that ended his Madrid run.

More: Brave Rybakina Saves Match Points, Into Madrid SF

First, Rublev's rocket serve displaced Fritz and set up the Russian's fierce first-strike forehand.

Secondly, Fritz couldn't always keep his feet defending out of the corners.

Afterward, Fritz told the media in Madrid the Manolo Santana Stadium court could use more clay.

In fact, he said sometimes he could hear the squeal of his sneaker on the hard surface beneath the red dust when sliding. 

"I mean, I know for a fact that there is not as much clay on center than all the other courts," Fritz told the media in Madrid. "I can literally, when I'm taking little steps, I can hear my feet squeaking because it's hitting the hard surface underneath the clay.

"I felt every time I was kind of trying to take an explosive step, which was a lot because he was pulling me so far off the court with his serve, I wanted to take some pretty aggressive steps to get back into the court, I was just slipping a lot."

Last week, Olympic gold-medal champion and Tennis Channel analyst Monica Puig described her days of playing in Madrid as if feeling she was "playing on a hard court with clay on top."

Fritz said Manolo Santana Stadium Court is "definitely slower and pretty slippery" compared to Arantxa Sanchez Stadium.

"I mean, it's normally pretty awkward when I'm moving, but I felt even more awkward," Fritz said. "I felt extra awkward moving today. I felt like I was getting to a lot of balls just a little late or off balance, and it just wasn't flowing for me.

"But like I said, he served very well and I didn't serve so well. So it's, you know, it's something I can control."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis