The grass, the white, the strawberries. And also the rain. This edition of Wimbledon, of course, has not managed to escape another of the traditional elements of the great Briton, who consumes the days and the rounds and day yes, day too, looks at the sky with little hope because the clouds have become strong in London and promptly claim their space. The meteorological services predicted it before the beginning: this year, well of water. And the drops insist, having forced the organizers to restructure the program throughout the first week, and somewhat less in this second because the volume of matches is already much lower and the retractable cover of Center Court and Track 1 have tennis allowed to pass. Of course, not without nuances.
The repetition of the falls of the players, another classic of the tournament, has attracted attention this year. Understandable the first days, when the grass has not yet worn down and requires extra caution in the maneuvers, they continue to be repeated in the final stretch. Some professionals perceive the threads a little higher, but the club insists that the treatment has been identical to that of other seasons – “just as meticulous” – and points to the prevailing humidity these days, which combined with the closure of the ceiling makes skidding frequent and instability in the supports is exacerbated.
Without going any further, Roger Federer, who knows the ins and outs of his garden better than anyone, has had to deal with slips and has taken a couple of shocks on the grass. He has managed to get away with it so far, but both Adrian Mannarino, his first-round rival, and Serena Williams had to withdraw from the tournament due to blows. However, the champion of 20 majors influenced the issue after achieving his pass to the quarterfinals, which he tackles today against the Polish Robert Hurkacz (2-6, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3 and 6 -3 to Daniil Medvedev).
“When they have closed the roof, the situation has changed. The grass has become more slippery. I still hadn’t broken a sweat, it was windy and cool, but as the humidity increased the game has been much slower, ”he detailed on Monday, after beating Italian Lorenzo Sonego. “He has a good first serve, but he couldn’t overwhelm me. It’s incredible the difference there is when you play with the roof open or closed, ”continued the 39-year-old from Basel; “You might think that with the cover it is easier to remove, but this is not the case. You have to add extra strength to your shots to achieve something ”.
In the same vein that Federer expresses himself Novak Djokovic, who this noon opens his turn in the center (14.30, Movistar) against Marton Fucsovics for another place in the semifinals. “Yes, the first few days I suffered a few falls, more than I wanted. But I don’t think it’s because of the courts, it’s because of the rain and humidity ”, pointed out the one from Belgrade a few days ago, when other tennis players like Andy Murray or Bianca Andreescu had already spoken. “The center is excessively slippery,” described the Scotsman. “The tracks are very wet, I have fallen at least six times,” added the Canadian.
Meanwhile, the organization insists that the preparation has been meticulous and without alterations, and that additional humidity is due to the weather and the fact that the two main slopes of the complex have to be covered daily. “Each one has been reviewed. By not being sufficiently exposed to sunlight, the grass is more slippery, “they wielded from the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet in a statement, defending the good performance of the club’s head of courts and horticulture, Neil Stubley, and his team gardening.
The Center Court in Wimbledon inaugurated its retractable roof in 2009, after investing 140 million euros in its installation. For the one on Track 1, released a decade later, the major English used 72 million. Thanks to this, the competition has been able to partially alleviate the impact of the weather, but there are some side effects. This year, the health authorities have granted the tournament an exception to be able to seal the two tracks despite the fact that one hundred percent of the capacity is admitted: 15,000 people in the main one and 12,400 in the complementary one.
In that sense, Federer, who will intervene this Wednesday after Djokovic’s commitment, distrusts the end of the pandemic crisis: “I am not 100% convinced that we are already on the other side. I think there is more to come. Last summer everything looked very promising and we were super positive, and then everything changed again ”.
Barty-Kerber and Sabalenka-Pliskova
The day of this Tuesday configured the semifinal crosses in the women’s team. The world number one, Australian Ashleigh Barty, beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3, and entered the penultimate round of the English great for the first time; incidentally, he was guaranteed to leave London sitting on the throne, regardless of what happened.
Barty will face the German Angelique Kerber, who defeated Karolina Muchova (6-2 and 6-3) and is one step away from playing for the third time in the final of a tournament that she won in 2018. After falling in the first rounds of Australia and Roland Garros, the former number one (33 years, the most veteran in the final seasons) returns to bloom at the most opportune moment.
In the other pulse of the semifinals, Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova will meet, who yesterday got rid of Ons Jabeur (6-4 and 6-3) and Viktorija Golubic (double 6-2) respectively. The Belarusian, champion this year at the Madrid arena, will make her debut in the penultimate round of a great event and continues to make her way with her punch and determination; meanwhile, the Czech recovers the good direction after a long period of stumbling.
Pliskova had never reached the penultimate round in London, territory that has brought her inspiration back. In his journey he has not given up a single set and has only lost service three times. He will have his track record in his favor, which reflects a 2-0 win against Sabalenka, and the experience of having reached the same level at Roland Garros (2017) and the US Open final (2016).
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The roof of the Cathedral also plays