Several players withdraw or retire at Wimbledon within two hours on Wednesday and they all express extreme disappointment. John Isner retired with a left knee injury, Victoria Azarenka pulled out prior to her match with a right knee injury, Steve Darcis pulled out prior to his match with a shoulder injury and Radek Stepanek retired with a thigh injury.
An hour and 15 minutes after Stepanek’s pullout, former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki twisted her ankle in the fourth game of the second set of her match against Petra Cetkovska and was forced to call the trainer. Marin Cilic and 2010 Wimbledon doubles champion Yaroslava Shvedova also withdrew.
World No. 2 Azarenka, who is suffering from a bone bruise she sustained after a first-round fall, was upset with condition of the grass, which she called slippery.
“The court was not in a very good condition that day,” said Azarenka who isn’t scheduled to play again until the first week of August at the tournament in Carlsbad, California. “My opponent fell twice; I fell badly; there were some other people who fell after. So I don't know if it's the court or the weather. I can't figure it out it.
“[It] would be great if the club or somebody who takes care of the court just would examine or try to find an issue so that wouldn't happen. There is nothing I've done wrong that cost me to just withdraw from Wimbledon...I don't see anything positive as of today because I'm disappointed extremely.”
This is the second time this season that Isner has suffered a knee injury that took him out of Grand Slam. He suffered a right knee injury during the winter that eventually caused him to pull out of the Australian Open. He injured his left knee at Wimbledon when he landed after a serve. An ultrasound revealed that he has some type of injury to a tendon on the front of his knee. The 18th-seeded Isner was in an open part of the draw after French Open champion Rafael Nadal lost to Darcis in round one.
“I know that in the section I was in Rafa had lost, and Lleyton [Hewitt] had beaten [Stan] Wawrinka,” Isner said. “I was the highest seeded player on a surface that I'm tough to beat on, given how well I can serve and how much I can hold serve. That's very disappointing. It's tough to think about. I had a good chance to go pretty far here.”
Isner is next scheduled to play Newport the week after Wimbledon but is now unsure about his summer schedule.
“I want to get the hell home, go back to the States, and get ready from there,” he said.
Darcis, who injured is right shoulder in his opening-round upset of Nadal, said that he was in so much pain, he couldn’t serve or hit forehands during his warm-up.
“When you beat a guy like Rafa first round, you want to show more,” he said. “I was playing maybe the best tennis in my life here. Not to go on the court today, it's maybe the biggest disappointing thing I have to do."
Maria Sharapova, who fell down three times in her loss to Michelle Larcher De Brito on Court 2 and was forced to take a medical timeout to treat a resulting hip injury, wouldn’t blame the court conditions for her defeat, but suggested that permitting players to practice on show courts could help.
“I'm not a groundsman. I've never really worked on grass courts before,” she said “Especially those courts, even Centre Court, Court 1, 2, 3, maybe having the opportunity to practice on them a few days before, because no one can practice on them. The first few days, you just know that they're going to just be really different.”
The All England Club issued a statement saying it had factual evidence that the courts are playing no differently than in 2012. There have been suggestions that because of Britain’s cold and rainy spring that the grass has not dried quite enough, although it hasn't rained since Sunday night.
Caroline Wozniacki, who badly twisted her ankle when she fell in her loss to Petra Cetkovska, said the courts felt differently than last year.
“Normally on the grass you can expect to slide on the sides with your foot, but not really when you have a full grip underneath with your shoes, you should be able to stand comfortably,” she said.