Wimbledon's 'wee bit slippery' courts prove a test for tennis Olympians

 

The venue was the same, but Wimbledon this was not. Even before the Olympic tournament got under way, a “flash mob” of 50 young dancers performed a 15-minute routine on Henman Hill before giving way to the Pet Shop Boys, who sang three songs.

Any watching All England Club members must have spluttered into their Pimm’s, or “No 1 Fruit Cup” as the Olympic branding authorities have insisted the drink should be called at the vending stalls.

When play began, the differences with the Wimbledon fortnight were equally apparent from the moment Tomas Berdych, wearing bright red and blue, played the opening match on the traditionally sober Centre Court, decked out on this occasion with its backdrops of London 2012 mauve. The perils of best-of-three-sets tennis were also clear as the world No 7, a potential quarter-final opponent for Andy Murray, was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Belgium’s Steve Darcis, the world No 75.

Worryingly for tournament organisers, the state of the courts, which have been reseeded since Wimbledon ended three weeks ago, also gave concern.  Players often find them slippery at the start of the tournament here, but Ryan Harrison, who smashed his racket in frustration after losing to Santiago Giraldo, fell several times on Court 14, which he said was “a lot slippier” and “not in the condition it was at Wimbledon”.

Roger Federer, returning to Centre Court just 20 days after beating Murray in the Wimbledon final, said after beating Alejandro Falla 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 that the court was no different to how it played at the start of every Wimbledon, while Serena Williams, who was watched by Michelle Obama as she beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1, said diplomatically that the grass was “a wee bit slippery”.

The new grass is not as deeply rooted as it normally is and the fact that the courts have already started to break up along the baselines could cause increasing problems before the end of the week.

“I think the grass is breaking a little faster than during Wimbledon,” Kim Clijsters said after her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Italy’s Roberta Vinci. “There are some chunks, bigger chunks, flying off very early on in the match, which is not the case during Wimbledon, but then again that's behind the baseline so it doesn't really ruin the court.”

Murray plays his first-round match against Stanislas Wawrinka this afternoon, but the Scot and his brother, Jamie, went out of the doubles, beaten 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 by the Austrians Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya. There was also disappointment for the other British pair in the men’s doubles, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins losing 7-5, 6-3 to the Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet.

Elena Baltacha was the only British winner on the first day, beating Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-3 to earn a second-round meeting with Ana Ivanovic. Baltacha revealed afterwards that she is set to have ankle surgery immediately after the tournament, which will keep her off the court for six months. Having suggested in the past that she might retire following the Olympics, the 28-year-old did not rule out such an outcome, saying it would depend how she felt following her rehabilitation.

Anne Keothavong was unable to build on a promising start and was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 by Caroline Wozniacki. Heather Watson and Laura Robson had a similar experience in the doubles and lost 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki.

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone