Wimbledon Wobble Watch: Who's crashing out, slipping over - and what the players are saying about the courts

Who are the latest player's to drop out of the SW19 tournament? Find out here...

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The Independent Online

It's been called the 'Wobble of Wimbledon' and the day the big seeds' chances slipped away. The phenomenon of - well - slippery grass means the courts at SW19 this year are the centre of attention.

Seven players pulled out with injuries yesterday, many directly blaming the hallowed turf. Is it different because the Olympics were played here last summer? Has the wet weather taken its toll? Is the grass longer, as Caroline Wozniacki claimed? Is it just plain dangerous, as Maria Sharapova said?

Well, Murray isn't struggling, so it's not a national crisis yet, officially anyway. In fact, he thought the courts were perfectly 'comfortable'.

Still, our eagle eyes are gathering evidence from today to get to the (possibly bruised) bottom of the mystery.


Today's toll so far:

Michael Llodra: The Frenchman became the first player to withdraw on Thursday as he lasted just 49 minutes in his second round clash with Andreas Seppi. Having lost the first set 7-5, Llodra threw in the towel to end the match and become the latest to retire hurt from this year’s tournament with a knee injury. Was it grass-related? Apparently now. Llodra admitted that he withdrew from the singles to focus on his doubles campaign, so it appears the grass will get another chance to take him down.

Paul-Henri Matthieu: France's second withdrawal of the day! Matthieu was two sets down when he decided enough was enough, pointing to his shoulder as he handed Feliciano Lopez victory. With rain clouds starting to appear overhead, he could be the first of many about to join the infamous list.

Grigor Dimitorv: And there we go! Dimitrov, in action against Grega Zemlja on Court No 3, takes a nasty groin-splitting slide as he attempts to change direction. Perhaps not quite breaking news, but add that fact that his current girlfriend is none other than fellow slippee Maria Sharapova AND she's in the stands looking on, and you have yourself a story!

Milos Raonic: The 17th seed bit the dust as he was knocked out by world No 60 Igor Sijsling in straight-sets to add yet another upset. Ok, so it's not a Federer or a Nadal, but Raonic will have expected to at least be in the hat for the third round. Sadly for him, he's on his way home, but unlike many others, he's still in one piece.

And, hmm, that's it so far today. Is this a scandal or just a storm in a Pimm's cup? Let's consider yesterday's evidence...


Yesterday's toll:

Maria Sharapova: The 2004 women’s champion was being built-up for a crunch final against current number one Serena Williams, but she became the latest name to be eliminated in the second round by qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-3 6-4. The Russian was seeded number three in the tournament, but she suffered a number of slips and slides on Court No2, complaining to the match umpire that the surface was “dangerous”. "I've never fallen three times in a match," she said later.

Caroline Wozniacki: Ninth seed was another to bow out on Wednesday after she was defeated 6-2 6-2 by Petra Cetkovska. She suffered a slip during the fourth game of the first set and immediately called for the trainer, though she failed to recover despite having her left ankle strapped. Believing that the court was responsible, she said: “You should be able to stand comfortably. Once you slip you can't run down balls like before”.

Victoria Azarenka: The cry of pain let out by the world number two could have been heard all over London as slipped in her first round victory over Maria Joao Koehler on Monday, with the resulting knee injury forcing the Belarusian to withdraw from her second round clash against Flavia Pennetta before the match had got underway. She definitely felt the court was to blame.

Roger Federer: Was the grass to blame? Many thought it could explain his shock exit, but no. The Swiss master and defending champion had another excuse: he just didn't play well. The biggest name to drop so far, the reigning champion was knocked-out in the second round by world No 116 Sergiu Stakhovsky 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6 in what was his worst Wimbledon performance since he was eliminated in the first round in 2002. He was unable to cope with the Ukranian’s serve-and-volley technique, and having led early on, he refused to blame the court condition for his defeat. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: An injury caused by a slip! Definite court suspicions here. The Frenchman was a set to the good in his second round match against Ernest Gulbis, but he required medical treatment at the end of the second set after Gulbis had levelled, and when the Latvian went ahead by taking the third set, Tsonga new his time was up and promptly retired injured.

Marin Cilic: A knee injury - and he blames the court. Cilic pulled out of his second-round match before it got started, having beaten Marcos Baghdatis in the first round. The 10th seed suffered a left knee injury, and withdrew from the tournament before his match with Kenny de Schepper on Wednesday.

John Isner: He made it two games into his match with Adrian Mannarino before injury struck. No slip here, as he injured his knee – bet you didn’t see that one coming – during a routine serve, and the turf escapes the blame from the American No2.

Steve Darcis: Rafael Nadal’s conqueror, jubilation turned to devastation as he became another to pull-out before his second round match. A knee injury? Not quite, as it was his shoulder that stopped him, perhaps from all that fist pumping he did on Monday.

Anna Ivanovic: The 12 seed didn’t suffer any injuries – perhaps she wished she had – as she was knocked-out by 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard. Ivanovic has slipped down the rankings since she was at the summit, but we can report there was no slipping going on as she lost the second round tie.


Enough evidence? Well, that was just Wednesday's blips. What about the opening games on Monday and Tuesday...


First round:

Rafael Nadal: Another knee injury! Surely that must be court-related! Not exactly - he refused to blame the courts. The French Open champion succumbed to a first round defeat at Wimbledon for the first time in his career, losing 7-6 7-6 6-4 to Belgium’s Steve Darcis. Having gone out in the second round last year with injury, Nadal had looked imperious since his return and was tipped for Wimbledon success, but Darcis completely outclassed him to take a straight sets victory.

Stanislas Wawrinka: No court controversy here -The Swiss was expected to see-off the challenge of the former Wimbledon champion, but my how he got it wrong. The 11 seed went out in straight sets to the Aussie, but Hewitt made sure the court had nothing to do with it by displaying a hunger of old.

Janko Tipsarevic: Yet another unexpected loss, thought the Serbian was defeated by his fellow countryman Voktor Troicki with such ease that the grass couldn’t possibly be to blame. 6-3 6-4 7-6 was enough to eliminate the 14th seed, and he left Wimbledon with little to say, sparing the courts of any further abuse.

Maria Kirilenko: The Russian was soundly beaten by Britain’s Laura Robson, but the only complaints coming from Kirilenko was that her Ice Hockey star fiancé Alexander Ovechkin was not allowed to use the player’s gym, whereas Wozniacki’s boyfriend Rory McIlroy (heard of him?) had free use for his time at the club. Not sure the court can take the blame for that one.