Unexpected heat and humidity has caused court condition issues at the All England Club.
After American Bethanie Mattek-Sands slipped on Thursday and suffered a heartbreaking knee injury during her match on Court 17 against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, players began expressing immense frustration over the state of the grass playing surfaces at Wimbledon.
Kristina Mladenovic, who lost in the second round to Alison Riske on Court 18, was the most vocal regarding the shaky court conditions.
“I’m not an expert at all on grass courts,” Mladenovic told The Guardian. “I guess the climate doesn’t help, the fact that it’s too nice, too hot, too sunny, makes everything very dry. That’s what we got as an answer from the officials.”
Both players asked the chair umpire to move the match to a different court because they felt the surface was unplayable. The request was denied.
“It’s quite unique with your opponent, after two games, you both agree on stopping playing in a slam,” Mladenovic went onto say. “You ask the referee to tell you what’s the rule if both players don’t want to keep on playing. And the answer is that they just can’t do anything, unfortunately, and you have to keep on playing. I’m not sure how the other courts are, if they’re damaged that much as Court 18.
“The color of the court, the fact that there’s no more grass, the fact the baseline where we are running, it’s very slippery. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not even clay. If you look at the screen, it is everywhere where we are supposed to run. There was a huge hole on the sides where the referee came to take pictures of it. It was not even flat. I realized that because at the warm-up I kind of twisted my ankle.”
Mladenovic also noted that Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland, who defeated American Christina McHale, privately told her that the conditions on Court 2 were, “horrible.”
Here is a comparison of playing condition between last year and this year:
Wimbledon 3R 2016 vs 3R 2017
Grass looks different. pic.twitter.com/ojGHlAwdYU
— Dmitry Shakhov (@Shahovez) July 7, 2017
With that being said, experienced players such as three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic are cognizant of the effort that goes into maintaining the finicky grass-courts.
“The groundsmen of Wimbledon are the best in the world, by far, on grass courts,” Djokovic told The Washington Post. “So they are making sure to keep the courts in good conditions and well kept. They can do only so much. Sometimes if you make a hole or something like that, you know, it’s hard to kind of find a way to recuperate that.”
With the tournament still in its early stages, it will be very interesting to see how the condition of the courts influences play.