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.”

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Grand Slam

Roger Federer Addresses ‘Out Of Context’ Claims Of Preferential Treatment At Australian Open

The former world No.1 has responded to allegations made about him by a former top 30 player for the first time.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has refused to get drawn into a debate over allegations that he receives special treatment at the Australian Open due to his business interests. 

During a recent interview with French Radio station RMC Sport, former top 30 player Julien Benneteau claimed that the 37-year-old receives favorable scheduling at the Melbourne grand slam. Benneteau has suggested that there is a conflict of interest between Federer and tournament director Craig Tiley. Pointing out the Swiss players business interests with tennis Australia.

“He’s the Australian Open tournament director,” Benneteau told RMC Sport.
“And the man is paid by Roger Federer’s agent for the Laver Cup.
“Over the last two Australian Opens, (Federer) played 14 matches, because he was champion and finalist. And he played 12 or 13 of his 14 matches in the night session.”

Questioned about the comments for the first time following his win over Dominic Thiem, a reluctantly speaking Federer said the quotes have been ‘taken out of context.’ On Monday fellow players Novak Djokovic and John Isner dismissed the idea of favoritism being an issue in the sport.

“I don’t really feel the mood during a World Tour Finals to discuss that topic, to be honest. In all fairness, I hope you understand why, because this is a bit of a celebration for tennis.” Federer replied when questioned.
“Julien, who is a nice guy, I know him since the junior times, I think all of this has been totally taken out of context.”
“I don’t feel like I need to comment on this. I’d rather put it to rest rather than adding to it so you guys got something to write about. “

Pressed further, Federer diplomatically sidestepped one claim that his agent, Tony Godsick, requested for him to not play on the Louis Armstrong Court at the US Open. According to Benneteau, Godsick went to the umpire office and effectively said ‘‘No way are you scheduling him here!’

“Sometimes I get asked, Do you want to play day or night? Sometimes they go ask the agent.” He explained. “Sometimes we have our say. But I asked to play Monday at the US Open. I played Tuesday night. It’s all good, you know. I’ve had that problem for 20 years in a good way. Sometimes I get help, sometimes I don’t.”

Whilst Federer is reluctant to go into details about the subject, the Australian Open has hit back in a lengthy statement. Citing the credentials of the Swiss as one of the reasons why he is usually scheduled to play on the premier courts. Federer is a six-time winner of the tournament. Winning 94 out of 107 matches played there throughout his career.

“Roger Federer is a once-in-a-generation player widely regarded as one of the biggest ‘box office’ athletes in the world,” tournament organizer Tiley said in a statement. “He has been regularly voted Australia’s favorite athlete.”
“The fans demand his appearance in the big stadiums and our broadcasters naturally want his matches to air in prime time. And I don’t think there’s a tournament director in the world who’s not going to take those factors into account when setting the schedule.”

Federer will return to action on Thursday at the ATP Finals when he takes on Kevin Anderson.

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Novak Djokovic Dismisses Favouritism Claims Amid Allegations Made Against Federer

The 14-time grand slam champion has jumped to the defense of his Swiss rival.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has hit back at suggestions that men’s tennis has a problem with favoritism after a former player recently accused Roger Federer benefiting from bias at the Australian Open.

Julien Benneteau, who peaked at a high of 25th in the world back in 2014, said during a recent interview that the 20-time grand slam champion receives preferential treatment at the Melbourne major. Citing Federer’s business partnership with tournament director Craig Tiley. They are both involved in the development of the Laver Cup, which the Frenchman claims is a conflict of interest.

“He’s the Australian Open tournament director,” Benneteau told RMC Sport.
“And the man is paid by Roger Federer’s agent for the Laver Cup.
“Over the last two Australian Opens, (Federer) played 14 matches, because he was champion and finalist. And he played 12 or 13 of his 14 matches in the night session.”

Federer, who lost his opening match at the ATP Finals on Sunday, is yet to respond to the accusation. Although questions have been raised about if favoritism is an issue in men’s tennis. Especially when it comes to the quartet of players that have contributed the most to the development of the ATP Tour over the past 20 years. Known as The Big Four, the quartet is made up of Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray.

“In a way, we have to be more specific. If we’re talking about general, so to say, the advantage of some players over another, I mean, in a way it’s expected that the tournament treats top players, their top stars, as players that they want to have kind of feel the best.” Djokovic responded when asked if favoritism was an issue in tennis.
“In terms of the scheduling, those kinds of important things, everyone is even because it has to go through the filter of ATP, not just the tournament itself.” He added.

Speaking more specifically about the Federer allegation, Djokovic swiftly played down any hype surrounding it. Focusing on his record in the sport. The 37-year-old has won 99 ATP titles, which is the second highest tally in the history of men’s tennis. Federer has also won more grand slam trophies in singles than any other man.

“I really don’t see a very strong argument there.” Said Djokovic. “I understand Julien’s point because sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favored year after year in certain tournaments. You kind of have to follow the pattern to really understand whether there is a case or not.”
“On the other side, you have to understand that also Federer is a driving force of tennis in terms of revenue, in terms of attention, in terms of all these different things.”

Similar to Djokovic, American No.1 John Isner shares a similar mentality when questioned about the subject. Going further by saying the elite of the sport deserves more treatment for what they have done for the promotion of the sport. For example, Federer’s endorsements have been valued at $65 million over a 12-month period, according to Forbes Magazine.

“The top players, they sell the most tickets, therefore, they should get the most. That’s what I think.” Said Isner. “I don’t think there’s a favoritism system like that at all. I think those guys are the ones that by and large carry our sport in a big way and they deserve everything they’ve ever earned.”
“If anything, they may be should get more special treatment because those guys, the top players, have made other players below them a lot of money. It is like the Tiger Woods effect in golf.”

The big four in tennis have won 53 grand slam titles since the 2003 Wimbledon Championships.

At the ATP Finals, Djokovic will next play Alexander Zverev on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Isner takes on Marin Cilic.

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‘No Idea If It Was My Last Match’ – Roger Federer Undecided On French Open Return

The former world No.1 gives an update about his plans for the future in the French capital.

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What if Roger Federer’s thrilling three sets clash against Novak Djokovic on Saturday was the last competitive match he played in Paris?

The 37-year-old was knocked out in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters by the in-form Djokovic in what was one of the most memorable clashes between the two in their rivalry. Federer saved all 12 break points he faced during the three hour encounter, but came up short in the decisive tiebreaker. Enabling Djokovic to set up a final showdown against Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

“Overall, it was a good tournament. I can look back and think it was definitely worth it to come to Paris. The welcome was great. I played some good tennis, so I can be happy.” Federer said afterwards.

In recent years, it has become somewhat of a rarity to see the world No.3 play in France. This week was the first time he has played at the AccorHotels Arena since 2015. He missed the event last year due to a back injury. Although tournament director Guy Forget blasted the Swiss player for his withdrawal. Federer hasn’t also played at Roland Garros, France’s biggest tennis event, since 2015.

Federer remains on the fence about if he will return to Roland Garros next year. In recent years he has opted to skip the clay-court season in order to rest his body and recover. Back in 2016 he was forced to miss six months of the tour due to a knee injury.

“No idea if it was the last match (in Paris),” he told reporters.
“As I said for the French Open, I will decide at the end of the year to see how it will have an impact on my physical training.
“Bercy (Paris Masters) as for next year, it’s like every year, it’s always difficult.”

Whilst the inevitable talk about Federer’s retirement escalates as he gets older, there is no indication that it will be in the near future. Earlier this week his coach, Severin Luthi, said during an interview with Le Temps that he believes Federer will hang up his racket in ‘one to three years.’

“I can’t foresee too much in advance, but I don’t think it will be my last match here (in Paris).” Federer concluded.

Federer will return to action at the ATP World Tour Finals, which will get underway on November 11th. He will be bidding to win the season-ending tournament for a record seventh time.

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