Greener days for Wimbledon groundsman after 'Wimblegeddon'

Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:53am EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Wimbledon’s head groundsman Neil Stubley is relaxed and calm as he watches the cream of international tennis battle it out on his turf - a far cry from a year ago, when a spate of injuries took an extraordinary toll on players.

The series of mishaps, which led seven players to pull out injured, has gone down in tennis circles as "Wimblegeddon". Maria Sharapova, who slipped three times in one day, had complained that conditions on the court were dangerous.

This year Sharapova wasn't complaining but she was cautious. "You can't just forget about it ... it's in the back of your mind," she said after winning her second match on Thursday.

With a year's perspective, and with Wimbledon champion Andy Murray saying the courts this year are "perfect", Stubley said a post mortem had found the courts were in much the same shape on that fateful June 26 they had been for previous championships.

"What happened last year was because it was a couple of high-profile players, all of a sudden people forgot that in the early rounds of a grass-court tournament there is the potential to slip because there is moisture in the leaves," the 45-year-old Londoner, who officially took up his post in 2012, said.

"And you know it's just a case of kind of riding it out," he said, adding that when a journalist asked at the time if he was losing sleep his response was that he had a six-week-old baby at home "so how do you think I slept last night?".

"I wouldn't say that we are blase or complacent with any of that," he added. "I think it just made us look at the information and just to make sure that where the courts should be for that part of the tournament, they were - and they were.

"And it's the same issue, the courts this year are pretty much identical as they were last year. You've had few players slipping this week but then you will have. You can go back all the way to the Rod Lavers, the Boris Beckers, they were slipping back then because it's the nature of the beast."   Continued...

 
Casey Dellacqua of Australia (R) serves to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during their women's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 25, 2014.        REUTERS/Toby Melville