Wimbledon's 'wee bit slippery' courts prove a test for tennis Olympians - Other events - Olympics - The Independent

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.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week