In Depth

Wimbledon ground staff battle to keep courts up to scratch

The hot, dry weather has presented organisers with a challenge this year, and some players are unhappy

Sunday was a rest day for the players at Wimbledon, but it was a hectic one for the ground staff as they tended the grass courts of the All England Club, which have come under scrutiny during the first week of the tournament.

There has been a "particularly loud chorus of complaints" this week about the state of the courts, prompting "concerns that the hot, dry weather has made it dangerous going in to the second week of play", says The Guardian

"Players including [Roger] Federer, [Novak] Djokovic and [Andy] Murray all passed comment on the supposedly dry, hard and slippery condition of the grass, with the blame falling on the long spell of hot weather the South-East has experienced over the past two months.

"The weather in the first week of play was also unusually warm, with the sun beating down constantly and temperatures regularly hitting the high 20s, which took a noticeable toll on the grass, particularly around the baselines. On Friday the club took the unusual step of putting the roof over Centre Court – usually reserved to protect from the rain – to shelter the grass before play began."

The condition of the courts was also linked to the horrific fall suffered by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in week one.

Ground staff watered some parts of the courts on Sunday and conducted "spot treatments" on areas of particular concern.

"All England Lawn Tennis Club staff have been working around the clock to ensure the courts are up to scratch ahead of Middle Monday, also known as Magic or Manic Monday, when all remaining male and female singles players will compete on the same day," says the Daily Mail.

However, the paper notes that they may get a helping hand from Mother Nature, with rain forecast on Monday afternoon, bringing some much-needed moisture to the lawns.

The extent of the challenge facing the club was highlighted last week by the Daily Telegraph. It outlined the rigorous methods required to create the perfect grass court - the grass is spoon fed nutrients and will only be cut by electric mowers to prevent the chance of an oil spill.

"Producing one flawless court is just the start," says the paper. " [Head groundsman Neil] Stubley and his groundstaff must produce 40 equally perfect practice and tournament courts. Moreover, every court must play exactly the same, though some are shaded, others exposed and several have their own micro-climates. Thus each is tested daily for moisture and hardness, and has its own nightly irrigation programme drawn up."

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