Wimbledon Grounds Crew Working Hard To Fight the Heat - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Grounds Crew Working Hard To Fight the Heat

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Tennis fans and players are in for an extremely hot fortnight at the All England Lawn & Tennis Club. Temperatures this week alone have reached as high as 32 degrees celsius and the weather forecast calls for more of the same in the coming days at Wimbledon. Sunscreen, hats and plenty of water will be in store for everyone in attendance. The sun is welcomed news for many but not the news the Wimbledon grounds crew was hoping for. Hot weather and bright sunshine are not what the doctor ordered when it comes to maintaining the precious grass on all 19 playing courts during the year’s third Grand Slam.

Canadian born Grant Cantin, the head groundsman at the All England Club, has the task of doing everything possible to keep the grass, known as ryegrass, in the best possible condition and he admits it will be a challenge this year.

“There is nothing we can do about Mother Nature, just pray it cools off,” said Cantin. “Ryegrass doesn’t like anything hotter than 30 (degrees) as it’s a cool season grass”

Ryegrass peaks in growth during the cool season but because of it’s shallow roots historically it doesn’t like the heat and drought.

“Every night we water depending on the hardness reading,” said Cantin, who is working on the lawns at Wimbledon for the 17th consecutive year. “We put just enough on to keep the grass alive. Our biggest concern is heat as it can sunburn the grass and there is nothing we can do about it. The last tourney and this one have been extreme for us.”

One advantage at least is having a roof over Centre Court. The grounds crew can use the roof as a sun shade while no one is playing. It helps keep the grass out of the direct sun. The firmness and moisture levels are still the same as the other courts but the sun protection helps from stressing the grass out.

Creating the perfect courts is a 12 month process. Cantin and his team begin the task of striping each court shortly after the tournament ends. Most of the players appreciate the hard work that goes into making the courts the best grass surfaces in the world. Roger Federer and coach Sven Groeneveld have always been complimentary according to Cantin. Andy Murray among others have also had good things to say over the years.

On occasion, however, a player will complain. Last year Kristina Mladenovic slipped during her second round match on Court 18 and had some critical things to say about the grass surface. “The baseline where we are running, it is very slippery. There is no grass. I don’t know how to describe it. There was a huge hole on one side of the court. “I guess the climate does not help, the fact that it is too nice, too hot, too sunny, makes everything very dry.”

Mladenovic may not have realized but grass is a natural surface. Usually the baselines start showing signs of wear and tear on or about the fourth day of the tournament. There is nothing that can be done about that.

“We have had grass temperatures reach 43 degrees celsius (this past week)” said Cantin, “and are going to have a hot 2 weeks during the Championships.”

@Sportshorn

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Board Ditches Proposal For 16-Seed Tournaments

After floating the idea of reverting back to the old format, officials has decided against changing the structure of the four majors.

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All four major tournaments will continue to have 32 seeds in the draw next year following a recent meeting conducted by the Grand Slam Board at the US Open.

Last year it was confirmed that officials were looking into the possibility of reducing the number of seeds from 32 to 16. Something that was last done at the 2001 French Open. In the past clay court specialists have called for more protection in the major tournaments. Leading to the number of seeded players being doubled. Following their research, the board has concluded that they have ‘no compelling reason’ to change the current format of the draw.

“Following a full year of Grand Slam match analysis and feedback from all other constituencies, especially players and broadcast partners, the Grand Slam tournaments have decided there is no compelling reason to revert to 16 seeds.” The Grand slam board said in a statement.

The possibility of reducing the numbers of seeds could have resulted in more high-profile exits earlier in tournaments. However, the WTA has concluded that having 32 seeds have little impact on if an unranked player reaches the later rounds of the tournament or not. At this year’s US Open only three of the top 16 women’s players managed to reach the quarter-final stage. In the men’s draw it was six out of eight.

20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer had previously spoken out in favour of reducing the seedings. Arguing that it could make the earlier rounds of majors more interesting, despite players like himself potentially facing tougher tests earlier on.

“Having 16 seeds, that might be interesting,” Federer said during the 2017 ATP Finals in London. “The draw could be more volatile, better matches in the first week.
“The top guys have made a habit of not cruising but getting through the first week quite comfortably for a long period of time. Playing against the numbers 17, 19 or 20 in the world is not something I really want to do, but it is what it is.”

The Grand Slam Board represents the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

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Novak Djokovic Capable Of Breaking Federer’s Grand Slam Record, Says Woodbridge

The former Australian player has praised the world No.6 following his win at the US Open.

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Former world No.1 doubles player Todd Woodbridge believes Novak Djokovic poses a serious threat to Roger Federer’s record of the most grand slam titles won.

Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the US Open on Sunday. Clinching his 14th major title to draw level with his idol Pete Sampras. The Serbian has won two consecutive grand slams following his triumph at the Wimbledon Championships. He is only the eighth man in the Open Era to win both of those tournaments within the same season.

“Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. He was my childhood idol. He was someone I was looking up to.” Djokovic told reporters in New York.
“There is a lot of significance of me being now shoulder to shoulder in terms of Grand Slam wins with him. It’s truly incredible when you think about it. I watched him win one of his first Wimbledon championships, and I grew up playing and thinking that one day I’ll be able to do what he does. To actually be here, it’s a dream come true.”

Overall, Djokovic is still six major titles behind Federer’s record of 20. However the Serbian is six years younger than the 37-year-old. Also in the race is current world No.1 Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has 17 major titles to his name with 11 of those occurring at the French Open.

Weighing in on the discussion, Woodbridge thinks the rapid improvement in Djokovic’s game in recent months has positioned him to once again pose a serious threat at all of the majors. Last year, Djokovic missed six months of the tour due to a serious elbow injury. After what was a roller coaster start to his comeback, which included undergoing minor surgery, he has risen back to the top of the sport. Winning 26 out of 28 matches played since his loss at the French Open.

“He’s 31, so he’s got three, four more years, given what (Federer and Rafael Nadal) have been doing. There’s at least five slams in there for him,” Woodbridge said about Djokovic during an interview with Tennismash.
“Now that’s a long way off, but that was the quality that I saw in his last couple of majors.
“His ball-striking was mediocre (in Australia), but all of a sudden he’s finding the centre of the racquet. His serving has really improved; the big-point serving and consistency. There were a couple of points (in the US Open final) I saw him move forward and hit a couple of volleys and I thought, ‘oh that was a good volley, like a really good volley, under pressure.”

Djokovic’s resurgence has been praised by Woodbridge, who believe it has been enhanced by the return of coach Marian Vajda at the start of the clay-court season. During his first six tournaments of 2018, Djokovic only won back-to-back matches twice.

“What I was watching at the Australian Open, it looked like he was done,” Woodbridge said.
“He looked like a guy who had achieved just about everything, had really fallen off and was playing some pretty ordinary tennis by everybody’s measure.
“To turn it back around and be playing almost as good as he ever has, I think he has a real opportunity to pass (Federer) and be the all-time leader in Grand Slams.”

Djokovic is currently ranked sixth in the ATP rankings. He is set to return to action next month at the Shanghai Masters in China.

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If You Want An Example Of Sexism In Tennis, Focus On The US Open Doubles Champions

On Sunday the women’s doubles trophy ceremony was cut short for the men and nobody batted an eyelid.

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Saturday night’s women’s final will forever be remembered in the history of the US Open, but for all the wrong reasons.

A dramatic argument between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos resulted in the former world No.1 ending up with a game penalty. Williams was warned three times for coaching, smashing her racket and verbal abuse towards the official. The fallout from that match was just as dramatic. Ramos has been accused of sexism in what was arguably the most difficult moment of his entire career. Both the WTA and USTA backed Williams before the ITF finally stood up for Ramos. Arguing that he just followed the rules.

In the aftermath of the match is an entire debate about the treatment of women in the sport. Although many don’t believe sexism was a factor in that match. Ramos has a history of being strict with both male and female players. Upon reflection many, including myself, don’t think Ramos made his decision based on gender.

What seems to be extraordinary is the lack of reaction to the conclusion of the women’s doubles final on Sunday. Ashleigh Barty and Coco Vandeweghe battled to an epic 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) win over second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. Earning their first grand slam title as a pair. It was a magical moment for Barty and Vandeweghe, but neither got the award ceremony that dreamt of.

“I’m just bummed we didn’t have any sort of award ceremony,” Vandeweghe told reporters.
“We couldn’t thank anyone. I think that was poor form.
“Maybe we’ll get another moment sometime, we’ll have another Grand Slam at Australia. Maybe they’ll do us right in Australia since the U.S. couldn’t do me right.”

Barty’s and Vandeweghe’s match took place before the men’s final. Lasting more than two-and-a-half hours, there was a chance that it could result in the delay of Novak Djokovic’s clash with Juan Martin del Potro. Officials feared this happening and instead opted to conduct a brief trophy ceremony. Taking away from the two winners the opportunity to speak to the crowd.

“To be honest, I don’t think they would have worried if they were 10 or 15 minutes delayed,” Barty said.
“I think it would have been nice for us to be able to thank our teams and all the people that make it a possibility, and to thank the crowd as well.
“They were a little bit confused as to why we weren’t given the opportunity.”

In fact Barty was told that the pair needed to leave the court soon because ‘the men needed to start.’ One would question it the same would happen if it was the Bryan brothers or a high-profile male doubles final taking place instead.

So why was there no uproar? Williams claimed that she was being penalised by the umpire for being a woman and a massive debate has taken over tennis. Meanwhile the two women’s doubles champions were literally told that they needed to cut short their celebrations to accommodate the men’s final.

I would have to question the double standards of the USTA, who runs the US Open. Their chairman, Katrina Adams, told ESPN ‘there’s no equality. I think there has to be some consistency across the board. These are conversations that will be imposed in the next weeks.” Adams’ calls for consistency is welcome, but a bit hypocritical. How can the USTA urge equality when the women’s doubles champions are being told to leave the court because the men want to start?

In reality action only gets taken on these subjects depending on the calibre of the player involved. Williams is one of the most successful female tennis players in the history of the sport. Meanwhile, Barty and Vandeweghe are nowhere near as on the same level. Not to say that either of them are bad players.

Double standards in the world of tennis is evident. Not just in relation to sexism, but in relation to how players are treated. Williams was a questionable victim of sexism, but two of her fellow players were. Yet there is no debate.

This is the real problem in tennis. Not how Ramos conducted himself in accordance to the rule book.

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