Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slipping and Sliding Into, Well, Controversy

by Savannah

I'll be honest. I lost hang on every shot interest in Wimbledon after Day 1. There's a reason I rarely talk about men's tennis. I'm a fan girl. I've admitted that more than once. I had two appointments yesterday afternoon and blithely went about my business figuring that the status quo would hold when it came to both the men's and women's draws.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the lead Michelle Larcher de Brito had over Maria Sharapova. Let's not forget that as usual Sharapova had a "nice, safe, easy" draw that would lead her to the Final. Dilated eyes and all I was glued to my smart phone squinting at scores.

I was still squinting when I saw that Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated the other perennial recipient of soft draws Roger Federer.

Ana Ivanovic lost? Not really a surprise. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired? He didn't look injured but with all the slipping and sliding on the wet back court grass by "grass court specialists" and others was he smart to err on the side of caution? After all he just recently got back to full speed after a bout with injury.

What I am surprised about is the press playing stupid about the slippery grass. Eastbourne? Anyone see all the falling there? Queens Club? The grass has been awful this spring/summer and yet all the beat reporters are acting as if this just started this week. It didn't. That the LTA felt the need to issue a special statement on the state of it's grass courts tells you that the players complaints behind the scene are loud and strong.

Didn't see the statement? I found it on fan site TalkAboutTennis . All emphasis is mine.


London, UK, Wednesday 26 June 2013:

“There has been a high number of withdrawals at The Championships today and we sympathise with all the players affected. The withdrawals have occurred for a variety of reasons, but there has been some suggestion that the court surface is to blame. We have no reason to think this is the case . Indeed, many players have complimented us on the very good condition of the courts.

“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event. The factual evidence, which is independently checked, is that the courts are almost identical to last year, as dry and firm as they should be, and we expect them to continue to play to their usual high quality.”

So what exactly is Mr. Richard Lewis saying? Fifty cent words can't hide the visual evidence presented so nicely by Romi Cvitovic on Twitter today.

Slip Sliding Away photo 1661346e-59b1-49ac-a776-9a696b5a5e36_zpsd1cd9930.jpg

I've been watching Wimbledon a long, long time. I have never, ever, seen so many slips and falls during a tournament. In fact I'm going to say there haven't been so many slips before. I don't care what Mr. Richard Lewis says. The grass is wonky this year and the Groundskeeper needs to reveal just what it is that was done differently. Was it the weather? Did the type of grass change? Was planting delayed due to the weather? Something happened and it's obvious to anyone with eyes let alone a player who finds himself or herself flat on their ass after going for a shot that last year wouldn't have ended with them in that predicament.

Maria Sharapova said to the chair umpire after one of her three falls that it wasn't safe out there. In her post match presser she said she'd never fallen three times during her entire career but wouldn't say anything more.

It's going to be very interesting to see how David Ferrer plays tomorrow. He limped through his match and limped off the court.

It's also ironic that the bottom half of the men's draw is almost devoid of seeds at this point. The only top seed is Andy Murray. If you remember the bottom half had all of the top five save one, who was in the top half of the draw. He had to say he didn't think he had a cakewalk but no one had any illusions about the gift he'd been given.

Draw stacking didn't work here and I doubt if we'll see anything similar again. Oh wait the US Open isn't until August...

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