July 16, 2024
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic slips after returning the ball to Denmark's Holger Rune during their men's singles tennis match. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Wimbledon’s slippery grass has been a long recurring theme, with Serena Williams and Andy Murray famously taking tumbles.

Novak Djokovic, 37, has become the latest player to fall foul of the surface after he slipped and ended up doing the splits during his fourth-round match on Monday.

The former world No 1 blamed the roofs of the show courts being closed, saying the grass becomes “more slippery” and causes injuries.

More than a dozen players have slipped on the courts so far this year as nearly a month’s worth of rain fell on the tournament in its first week.

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu also fell victim to the slippery grass and took a medical time out. Photograph: Peter van den Berg/Avalon

The former US Open champion Emma Raducanu slipped and had to take a medical timeout in the third set of her fourth-round Centre Court clash against New Zealand’s Lulu Sun, 23, on Sunday. Moments earlier, on Court 1, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov had to retire due to injury after a slip in the first set against Daniil Medvedev, 28, left him limping.

The roofs of Centre Court and Court 1 have been closed for much of the tournament as there were only two dry days in the first week. Eight players slipped while the roofs were covered on the show courts.

“Once you close the roof, it feels like we’ve been playing an indoor grass court tournament here more than [an] outdoor, to be honest. I played every single match basically indoors,” Djokovic said after defeating Denmark’s Holger Rune, 21, on Monday evening.

“But, once you close the roof, you know the grass is going to be more slippery. So there’s more chances that players will fall. Unfortunately, some of the falls have caused some of the players to withdraw, like Dimitrov [on Sunday]. We saw [Alexander] Zverev as well, in his previous match, slightly injured his knee. That was troubling him even [on Monday].

“It’s part of this surface. You can’t really change that. I mean, it’s grass. It’s a live surface, and it reacts to different conditions, the humidity.”

Speaking earlier on Monday, Sally Bolton, the chief executive of the All England Club (AELTC), denied the slips were due to the roofs being closed.

“The two show courts with the roofs, the courts are very dry, the roofs have not been open significantly – there isn’t any dampness in there,” she told reporters. “In both show courts, we have a complex mechanism for keeping the air in the right condition for the court to be in the right condition.

“Those systems have been working very hard but they’ve been working fine so we have no concerns about the courts.”
She said that the grass “has got more moisture in it” in the first few days of the championships, but that the courts tend to dry out as they wear.

“But that’s the nature of grass courts themselves rather than any particular conditions as a result of the wet weather we’ve had,” Bolton added.

Wimbledon has previously said 600 air distributors pump dry air into the courts to prevent condensation forming on the surface.

Greg Rusedski, the former world No 4, defended the surface. “It’s called grass, you’re supposed to slip,” he told reporters as he prepared to take part in the mixed-invitation doubles.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, there’s a bad bounce.’ God almighty – go and play in the 1990s and the last century. You’re expecting bad bounces, it’s not supposed to be perfect. Grass courts have never been better. Also, you’ve got to look at the way the grass works … You’re going to slip, that’s part of the business and you’ve just got to deal with it.”

The conditions also made headlines in 2021 after Serena Williams slipped and was forced to retire and Djokovic later complained that he could not remember falling over so many times on a court. In 2013, several players, including Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, slipped on one day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com