By John Stonestreet
LONDON (Reuters) – Wimbledon’s courts are playing as well as ever and there is nothing unusual in the slipping and sliding that disrupted some matches in the tournament’s first week, the head of All England Lawn Tennis Club said on Monday.
Conditions this year have been hotter and drier than usual, and some players have questioned the quality of the surface.
World number one Andy Murray spoke on Friday of “almost like little divots” appearing on Centre Court while French player Kristina Mladenovic found fault with Court 18, hours after American Bethanie Mattek-Sands seriously injured her knee on Court 17.
All England club chairman Richard Lewis said a first week virtually uninterrupted by rain showed the importance of the traditional rest day in the middle of the tournament, when housekeeping is done on the surface.
“One of the things this year has proved is the value of middle Sunday. That when you have a full schedule of play and very good weather the courts benefit from a rest,” he told a small group of reporters.
Groundstaff have also taken extra steps to protect the turf from the blazing sun, including closing the Centre Court roof before play on Friday, and the courts were now playing as well as ever.
“We are very happy with the courts. We are 100 percent confident in them…,” Lewis said. “I had a look at Centre Court yesterday and I think it was as good as I have ever seen it.”
So are the players’ complaints unjustified?
“We respect the players’ views. Players in the heat of battle will have their views,” said Lewis.
“In the end all we can go by is what we go by every year. The groundstaff have won awards over the years, there is a reason for that … I haven’t seen many players slipping… I haven’t seen many players fall” this year.
(Reporting by John Stonestreet; editing by Mark Heinrich)