The grounds of Wimbledon have seen it all through the years but these first three days may have been the strangest yet. A combination of upsets, withdrawals and walkovers has left us all stunned and only now can we start to pick up the pieces.
Big Stars Stunned
Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal. Maria Sharapova. Victoria Azarenka. Sara Errani. Jo-Wifried Tsonga. Caroline Wozniacki. Marin Cilic. Maria Kirilenko.
That’s nearly half of the men’s and women’s top 10 out and that doesn’t even include the other early losses by former world number 1’s. It has been an unprecedented few days and something that has rightfully shaken up the tennis world.
Some have admitted that they have become tired of the same narrative that seems to occur every Grand Slam. The fact that the Big 4 will conquer the ATP and a once unstable WTA has also become more top heavy. To them I say, hope you are happy because this year’s Wimbledon has given you something different. The storylines of the second week have vanished in the first few days and we will have to look for new stories the rest of the fortnight.
Injuries and the Grass?
One of those stories may be the surprising amount of injury-led walkovers and withdrawals. We can all stomach a huge upset (like that of Federer or Nadal) but have trouble appreciating an injury laden tournament. This week, we have had various top players stumble and slip on grass and many of them withdrew.
The All England Club’s CEO issued a statement on Wednesday addressing the issue:
London, UK: “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.”
Richard Lewis, Chief Executive
The All England Club- wimbledon.com
I tend to agree with Mr. Lewis that the higher than normal amount of injuries are not the grass’s fault. The grass has always been healthier and slicker at the beginning of the Championships then later in the fortnight. It’s up to the players to adjust their style and footing because the grass surely will not help them when they are making those difficult slides.
I think everyone agree with this, upsets we can live with but injuries simply put a damper on any tournament. Hope this trend changes the next 10 days.
What it all means?
Well it could mean nothing. We still have three of the heavy favourites alive and well (Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray). However, even the most cautious fan would suggest that the tone of these championships has changed. No longer are we waiting for those heavyweight showdowns that we have become accustomed to but simply looking forward to the next day and next upset.
One thing is for sure that Wimbledon has provided a new kind of drama this year: Mayhem
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