Centre Court, the pride of Wimbledon, took a battering from the seeds yesterday, with Pete Sampras comparing the hallowed surface with cement and Jana Novotna declaring the bounce was about as true as life on the moon.
Sampras, the No 1 seed who knows the court like his backhand having won three championships on the manicured meadow, played there for the first time in the current championships and was not impressed.
"I couldn't believe it in the warm-up," he said after burying Byron Black, of Zimbabwe, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. "It was very chewed up. There was no grass in the middle and some areas were like cement. I've never seen it so chopped up."
Novotna, the women's No 3 seed who preceded Sampras on court, was just as forthright. "You never get a decent bounce, it's really badly damaged," said the Czech after her straight-sets victory over Spain's Gala Leon Garcia.
The volleys forced head groundsman Eddie Seaward to abandon his roller and assure the players that all was well. "We have always strived to achieve perfect playing conditions on all our courts," he said. "I am obviously concerned about the condition of Centre Court, but we are increasing the air flow through the night with the use of fans, and once the moisture has dried out, I am confident the court will become firmer, look better and continue to perform well."
Cross is happy
Karen Cross and Lorna Woodroffe, the only two British women to win singles matches at Wimbledon this week, will receive an extra bonus when the Women's Tennis Association announce their latest rankings next Monday.
For the first time, Cross, the bubbly Devon left-hander, and the 20-year- old Surrey player Woodroffe, will both move into the world's top 200 and will also be ranked No 2 and No 3 in Britain behind Sam Smith.
Cross collected a massive 96.5 points -16.5 for winning three qualifying matches, 44 for beating American Linda Wild and Spaniard Maria Sanchez Lorenzo in the first two rounds, plus 36 bonus points because world No 44 Wild and Sanchez Lorenzo, ranked No 71, were so far ahead of her on the computer.
The 23-year-old from Exeter started Wimbledon at world No 322 and British No 8, but is expected to climb as high as No 147 next Monday.
Woodroffe, improving all year, started the Championships at world No 242 and British No 5. She gained 49 points in total for beating 18-year- old Swiss prodigy and world No 33 Patty Schnyder in the first round and will jump to No 166.
DEEDS OF THE SEEDS
Plays Petr Korda for place in quarter-finals
46 aces but still a R2 loser to Magnus Norman
Plays Nicolas Kiefer, of Germany, in R4
Champions plays Tim Henman for place in last 8
1st rd loser to Aussie Todd Woodbridge
Lost in straight sets to Britain's Greg Rusedski in 1st rd
Plays Marcelo Rios of Chile in the fourth round
Chilean squares up to Becker in the next round
Lost to Richey Reneberg in the second round
Lost to Justin Gimelstob over 5 sets in 1st rd
Meets Todd Woodbridge in the fourth round
Lost to Nicolas Kiefer in the third round
Krajiecek stands in his way in the fourth round
Lost to Cedric Pioline in the third round
Plays Sampras, the No 1 seed, in the third round
Lost to Briton Chris Wilkinson in 1st rd
Holder: Steffi Graf
Belgium's Sabine Applemens in next up in R4
Won first set 6-0 v Testud but still lost in R3
Plays Mary-Jo Fernandez for place in last 8
Injury-hit Croat faces up to Spirlea in R4
Lost to Chladkova in the third round
Overpowered by Hy-Boulais in the third round
Third-round victim of Anna Kournikova
Plays Mary Pierce in the fourth round
'The Body' must pass Arantxa to make the last 8
Victim of the veteran Helena Suikova in R3
Jana Novotna is next opponent for Mary-Jo in R4
Faces French Open champion Majoli in R4
Beaten by Australian Kerry Guse in 1st rd
Lost to Sabine Appelmans in the third round
Lost a long 1R battle against Andrea Glass
pulled off an upset in R2
THE NUMBERS GAME
31,204 The number who turned up for People's Sunday - 6,310 up on the previous middle Sunday in 1991
9 The number of women seeds who are no longer in the competition
37 The number of minutes before Sandrine Testud won her first game during her shock victory over Monica Seles
3 The number of Americans still in the singles - Sampras and Reneberg in the men, Mary Jo Fernandez in the women
12.8m The number of viewers who watched Tim Henman beat Paul Haarhuis on BBC TV
8-1 The odds on Greg Rusedski winning Wimbledon. Sampras is 11/8 favourite; Henman is 16-1
Mainly cloudy, showers developing. Maximum temp 18CReuse content