Andy Murray and Roger Federer are among the players who have complained about the condition of the courts at the All England Club this week. On Friday, American Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered an horrific knee injury.
Reigning champion Andy Murray has complained about the condition of the courts at Wimbledon, adding his name to a growing list of players who have voiced concerns.
World number one Murray came through a close third round match against Fabio Fognini on Friday evening and suggested that the grass was one of the reasons he struggled.
"I don't think the court is in as good a condition as previous years," said the Scot. "There are a few spots on the court, like just behind the baseline and just in front of the baseline, where there are big lumps of grass, sort of like little divots there, which I don't remember really being the case." His Italian opponent also described the court as "quite bad."
Unusually high temperatures and dry conditions have caused the surfaces to become more slippery, with French player Kristina Mladenovic particularly outspoken.
"Honestly, I couldn’t care less if I'd lost the match today," the French 12th seed said on Thursday after losing to Alison Riske on Court 18. “I’m just so blessed and happy that I am not injured today, because we saw worse today.”
Mladenovic was referring to the horrible knee injury suffered by Bethanie Mattek-Sands when she twisted and slipped on Court 17. The extent to which the turf contributed to Sands' injury is not known but the American faces surgery on a dislocated knee.
“It’s very slippery. There’s no grass", Mladenovic continued. "I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not even clay. It’s not flat."
Gilles Müller, the men's 16th seed from Luxembourg who faces Rafael Nadal in the fourth round on Monday, practiced on Court 18, the fifth show court, the week before the tournament started. "The grass doesn’t look so good on this court; it’s not in the best shape. Maybe it was the warm weather the week before, I don’t know. I felt that the court was not in great shape bounce wise. I didn’t feel it was dangerous but I felt like it was very soft and slow."
'The same meticulous standard'
In a statement, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said: “The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years. Grass is a natural surface and it is usual for the baselines to start to be showing signs of wear and tear four days into the Championships.”
Roger Federer added his opinion when asked if the courts were worse this year. "Possibly, because it’s been extremely hot today and yesterday. So maybe that’s why we are hearing [what the players are saying]," said the seven-time champion. "It’s not a good sign, and you should always take the players’ opinion seriously, especially when both say it.”