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Wimbledon grass courts ‘grippy’ despite slips, says director

Wimbledon tournament director Jamie Baker said Friday the grass courts were “good and grippy” despite several high-profile tumbles in the first week of the Grand Slam.

Two-time champion Andy Murray had a nasty fall on Centre Court as he served for a two-sets-to-one lead in his second-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas late on Thursday but got back up and won the set.

US veteran Venus Williams fell heavily in her first-round defeat to Elina Svitolina also on Centre Court on Monday, hurting her already-bandaged right knee.

“I was literally killing it, then I got killed by the grass,” said the 43-year-old five-time champion.

Novak Djokovic’s match on the same day was delayed for nearly 90 minutes due to a damp court as players expressed concerns over the surface.

On Thursday, France’s Alize Cornet crashed to the Centre Court turf when her left leg slipped late in her defeat to defending champion Elena Rybakina, though she was able to carry on with heavy strapping.

But Baker said players had not expressed concerns over the state of the grass at the Grand Slam, which has been disrupted by rain.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “I think the surface is as good and as grippy as I can remember to be honest in the early part of the tournament.

“There has been a handful of slips but there really hasn’t been many at all.

“Andy obviously slipped last night at the end but those instances actually could happen in the final just as much as at the start and particularly as we’ve had the roof on a lot.” 

Baker also addressed the issue of the curfew at Wimbledon — Murray’s match against Tsitsipas was suspended late on Thursday due to the approaching 2200 GMT curfew.

The director said officials would not change the policy on start times to ensure earlier finishes during the Grand Slam but added the issue was “constantly” under review.

“What we’re really trying to do, particularly when it comes to the scheduling and tennis decisions, is try to avoid making a knee-jerk decision based on one or two matches and trying to take at least a three-year picture of what happens.”

He added: “That was unbelievably disappointing yesterday but if our data show that’s happening once every five years maybe on that balance the time is OK.”

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