Players retiring, scheduling problems and dry courts prove there’s still work to do
ROGER FEDERER and Jamie Murray gave a feelgood finish to Wimbledon 2017.
But Federer’s record-breaking eighth title and Murray’s mixed doubles crown with Martina Hingis, which capped a good overall showing by the Brits, should not blind anyone to the problems at this year’s Championships.
Marin Cilic’s blister was an unfortunate injury which prevented the men’s final from being a contest but also brought back into focus the issue of players retiring.
For Cilic, it was a point of principle not to give up even with a £1.1 runner-up cheque guaranteed.
Other players, though, took the money and ran after failing to complete matches – 10 of them in the men’s draw alone.
Cilic’s inability to compete was disappointing enough, but those who had shelled out for Center Court tickets for first Tuesday were very short-changed when the opponents of both Federer and Novak Djokovic threw in the towel after a set and a bit.
As Andy Murray says, surely the Grand Slams – or the All England Club on its own – can come up with a rule like the men’s tour already has, which would allow injured players to collect all or most of the prize money they would have “earned” but let lucky losers replace them so that fans get to see a proper match.
While we’re at it, the All England also needs to put some clearer, pro-active rules in place in the event of scheduling problems such as those caused by Rafael Nadal’s marathon match against Gilles Muller on No 1 Court.
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Djokovic and his camp may have mucked officials about by changing their minds about whether he wanted to have his match moved to Centre on second Monday.
But if there were firmer, specific guidelines in place, then the farce which unfolded, with Djokovic being told he had to come back the next day to play Adrian Mannarino, could be avoided.
The way the All England quickly shifted the end of Coco Vandeweghe and Magdalena Rybarikova’s quarter final to Centre showed what could be done.
However, it’s unclear what could be done to stop the courts deteriorating as they did this year.
The bare patches on the Centre Court baselines for the finals were not a good look. Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray all commented on the playing surface being significantly worse than in previous years.
The hot, dry spell made life difficult for the groundsmen but their claims that scientific readings showed the courts to be in as good shape as usual, just didn’t ring true.
Wimbledon remains a unique event, a cut above the other Slams. But there’s work to do to keep it that way.