Djokovic unhappy with court condition, asks for tie-breaker in fifth set

Novak Djokovic overcame an injury scare to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the ninth time and then lashed out at the Centre Court, claiming a hole has opened up on the famous surface.

Novak Djokovic slips on the baseline as he plays against Adrian Mannarino during their fourth round match at the Centre Court on Tuesday.   -  AP

Serbian Novak Djokovic expressed displeasure about the condition of Wimbledon courts. Djokovic enjoyed a 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win over France's Adrian Mannarino under the Centre Court roof on Tuesday. However, overcame an injury scare to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the ninth time and then lashed out at the Centre Court, claiming a hole has opened up on the famous surface.

Well, I think the groundsmen will be more, I guess, competent to answer the question what can be or cannot be done. As you all know, grass is probably the most demanding and complex surface for maintenance. The more you play on it, the worse it actually gets, unfortunately, contrary to clay, for example.”

“Yeah, many players, I mean, I'm not the only one, have been complaining a little bit about this condition of the court. But the end of the day it is what it is. You have to accept it. You have to deal with it. It's the same for both players.The fact is that, you know, the court is not in a great condition. But, you know, as I said, you have to deal with it. I don't think much can be done and what can be done. As I said, that's not in my area of understanding and competence.

“The chair umpire in the end of the match asked me about the hole, because midway through the match I mentioned there is a hole. He wanted me to show him, so I showed him. His reaction wasn't that great (smiling). Well, I guess, you know, groundsmen and everyone is doing their best. I have no doubt that they are giving their best to have the court in a most playable condition possible at this moment. But, you know, it is what it is.”

He went on, “Well, today I must admit under the roof it was a bit more slippery in the back of the court especially. Whether it's a safety issue? I don't think it is as much as it is hindrance to the play. There is an uneven surface around it, no grass area basically around the baseline. It's quite uneven. The ball bounces there, it's a gamble to really get that ball, you know. It's more a play issue.”

Following scheduling chaos which saw former World No. 1’s semifinal match getting postponed to the next day, the former Wimbledon champion asked for a change in the fifth set to a tie-breaker to avoid a repetition of day seven of the tournament.

Djokovic argued, “Because any other Grand Slam has it. I just don't see any reason why not. Because Isner and Mahut made a history with an 11-hour match once. Is that a reason why we're keeping it?”

Applauding the Rafael Nadal-Gilles Muller match to be a drama, Djokovic said, “Yeah, it is great drama. But that player has to go out tomorrow. It is for a spectator. But for a player to play a five-, six-hour match, then come back the next day or within two days and perform, it's not really what your body's looking for, to be honest. If you are already getting to the 6-all fifth set, you might as well just decide it in a tie-break.”

He added, “I obviously was not happy not to play last night. I wanted to play. I thought we could have played. We were kept for two and a half hours in the dark, in a way, without knowing what we are going to do. So you were on your toes warming up, cooling down. Referee's office was completely indecisive. Finally when the match was over, we thought, Okay, we have two and a half hours, we can go to Centre Court. They said, No, it's going to take too long to get the crowd in.”

“Anyway, it was frustrating last night, I must admit. But I quickly just turned the next page and just focused on what I need to do today. I've done it in straight sets. That's all that matters. So I try to just be in this moment and look forward to next challenge.”

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