Novak Djokovic laughed when asked about his relationship with the Centre Court crowd following his second win there this week.
The All England Club champion five times chuckled at his own joke, and then added: “I don’t recall falling so much in the first two Wimbledon matches.”
Yes, Wednesday’s slips came in less than 24 hours after Serena Williams (and Roger Federer) pulled out of matches due to injuries sustained in falls.
The No. The No. 1 seed Djokovic was not injured after losing his footing at least five more times while beating Kevin Anderson, 6-3 and 6-3. But he wasn’t the only one who could not stay upright.
John Isner, Nick Kyrgios and Bianca Andreescu were some of the people who took tumbles on Day 3.
“I didn’t slip once, I slipped six times throughout the match. Andreescu, 2019 U.S. Open champion, said that the courts were very wet. 5 seed, who lost to AlizeCornet 6-2 and 6-1 on No. 2 Court. “The courts are extremely slippery. “I have only been here once, but it wasn’t like this.”
Williams’ attempt to win a record-breaking 24th Grand Slam title was thwarted by her inability to hold the ball. She was left “heartbroken” and in tears following only 30 minutes and less that a set Tuesday. Her right leg was injured when her left foot lost traction at the baseline, in the same spot as Adrian Mannarino’s right knee while leading Federer.
Both matches took place on Centre Court. Isner was in trouble on Court 18, during his five-set loss Wednesday. Kyrgios fell awkwardly on No. 1 Court.
The All England Club released a statement Tuesday night, which seemed to be an attempt to dispel any notions that grass might have changed in two years. It said that the grass courts had been prepared to the exact same meticulous standard as previous years.
Wimbledon’s courts are taken down each year and new grass is put in. The fact that the 2020 edition of Wimbledon was cancelled due to the pandemic should not affect matters.
Before competition began on Monday, Neil Stubley, club’s head for courts and horticulture said, “Even though they didn’t have The Championships,”. “So, we just took the courts apart and re-leveled them and re-seeded then just grew them in for this year.”
Djokovic suggested another explanation: The players are not practicing on grass. Last season’s circuit was not only destroyed, but there were only two more weeks between the French Open on clay and Wimbledon.
The main stadium’s retractable roofing was closed for Mannarino and Williams’ first round matches on Monday. The All England Club attributed the slippery surface to “almost a decade” of Wimbledon’s opening days, rather than any change in the grass.
The club stated that keeping the roof closed for too long can cause “additional moisture” to the grass.
“It feels a little more slippery under the roof. It could be a gut feeling or if the roof is slippery. It is important to be careful out there. Federer stated that pushing too hard at the wrong times can cause you to fall. It does feel drier during the day. It takes the (moisture), out of the grass because of all the wind and other stuff. This is clearly terrible.
However, Wednesday was dry so Djokovic’s match took place in an open arena.
The club stated that the tournament’s opening is when the grass plant is at its best, making it more moist.
Federer provided a similar assessment.
He is quite familiar with the area, having won eight times at Wimbledon and first entering it in 1999.
“It’s very important for many players to get through the first two rounds because the grass is more slippery. He said it is harder to move on later in the week because the grass is softer.
Djokovic believed that the most important thing was not his fake steps but the final score.
He said that he hoped to fall less as the tournament progressed, even though he doesn’t mind falling more if it means winning a match.