Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
France's Michael Llodra and eight other players retired in the second round. Adrian Dennis / AFP
France's Michael Llodra and eight other players retired in the second round. Adrian Dennis / AFP

Wimbledon: Groundskeeper defends playing surface despite slippery falls

After their Wimbledon withdraws, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova were both vocal in their complaints about the playing surface at All English Club.

LONDON // Wimbledon's new head groundsman said Thursday he was "100 per cent happy" with the grass courts despite a string of players tumbling out of the tournament through injury.

Reflecting on his first week as Wimbledon's No 1 "turf man", Neil Stubley said: "We are still confident this morning coming in that we are still producing the best tennis courts in the world."

He added: "We are 100 per cent happy with the playing surface and it's no different to any other year."

A day of shocks and slips on Wednesday provoked tabloid headlines like "Wimbledon carnage". The Croatian Marin Cilic, who pulled out through injury, called it "a very black day".

Victoria Azarenka, the second seed, called on the organisers to examine the state of the courts after taking a fall and suffering a knee injury on what she called a slippery Court 1 on Monday. She withdrew. Her knee failed to recover in time for her second-round match.

On Wednesday, seven more players joined the Wimbledon casualty list in what was a record number for one day at a grand slam. Along with Cilic, the wounded list included Radek Stepanek, Steve Darcis, Guido Pella, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Romina Oprandi and John Isner who managed to get through 183 games over 11 hours in his marathon match against Nicolas Mahut three years ago.

Isner and Cilic pulled out with knee injuries. Belgium's Darcis, who had knocked out Rafael Nadal in the first round, succumbed to a shoulder problem and the Czech Stepanek had trouble with his left hamstring.

Maria Sharapova was overheard on the court microphone calling her court "dangerous" as she slipped a number of times before eventually departing the tournament via the scoreboard.

Asked about that comment, Stubley said: "It's her opinion. Lleyton Hewitt played on the court an hour before and thought it was fine."

Phlegmatic about what the players and press had to say, he added: "It's part of the job working at a high-profile event. We are under the spotlight. We will take it on the chin.".

It is his first time in charge since the retirement of the long-time groundsman Eddie Seward.

"We are fully confident that we have prepared them how they should be prepared every year they are wearing exactly how they should be," he said.

Boris Becker, a former champion, rose to the defence of the courts. The German, renowned in his heyday for throwing himself in spectacular dives, said: "The grass is always going to be slippery in the first couple of matches. That has been the case for the past 100-plus years."


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi plays with a rugby ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in Sant Joan Despi, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del Rey final

Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.

 Supporters of China during the Asian Cup Qualifier match between Iraq vs China at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. Iraq won the match by 3-1. Pawan Singh / The National

Asian Cup expanding to 24 football teams in 2019

As part of a regional shake-up, the 2019 Asian Cup will climb to 24 teams but next month’s Challenge Cup in the Maldives will be the last, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced.

 Faisal Al Ketbi, standing, has been the poster boy for the upcoming Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

Faisal Al Ketbi is in spotlight for world jiu-jitsu championships at Abu Dhabi

Faisal Al Ketbi is the poster boy for UAE jiu-jitsu, with his picture prominent in the billboards and advertisements for this week’s Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

 Abdelaziz Haikal, left, avoids getting tackled, but his Al Ahli side were forced to a goalless draw at home to Al Hilal, from Saudi Arabia. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli miss huge opportunity to progress in ACL

Dubai side forced to a goalless draw at home to Al Hilal. Ahmed Rizvi reports.

 Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, left, gestures from his car after winning the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 30, 2014. He will be among the favourites at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones

F1: Mercedes look to capitalise on woes at Red Bull and Ferrari

Ferrari were left reeling after team principal Stefano Domenicali quit and Red Bull were handed a setback when they lost their appeal for Daniel Ricciardo as both incidents have heightened the mood at Mercedes ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

 Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa could be wearing a blue kit next season at Chelsea in the English Premier League. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Atletico’s Diego Simeone cannot stop Diego Costa move to Chelsea

Diego Costa has been the standout player for Atletico Madrid with his 26 goals, which has attracted the attention of several leading European clubs and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are reportedly at the front of the queue.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National