Friday 24 November 2017

Players vent anger over lack of toilet breaks and damp patches

Serena Williams threatened to sue a referee over slippery playing conditions. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Serena Williams threatened to sue a referee over slippery playing conditions. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Tom Morgan

Players revolted over rain and comfort breaks at Wimbledon yesterday as organisers faced claims they were overlooking safety to get matches played on time.

Serena Williams threatened to sue a referee over slippery playing conditions and two other players erupted with rage after being refused a lavatory break.

In ill-tempered scenes on Centre Court, referee Andrew Jarrett was targeted by Williams midway through her match as she warned Marija Cicak, the umpire: "If I get hurt, I'm suing him."

As light drizzle fell, she told the official: "I'm going to fall. I don't get it. Can't they just close the roof?"

Her outburst came after Frenchman Gilles Simon had also threatened legal action after last week describing how he wanted to "destroy" the umpire who refused his request to leave the court in drizzle.

The All England Club has been under pressure to play matches on time after being forced to stage only the fourth 'People's Sunday' in its history following heavy rainfall last week. However, a spokesman denied referees were being urged to play through rain.

As Williams lost her temper during her fourth-round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, a simultaneous confrontation erupted on Court Seven where former doubles champion Jonny Marray became the first Briton through to the quarter-finals.

Marray and Canadian partner Adil Shamasdin faced Spain's Marcel Granollers and Pablo Cuevas, who were enraged after being refused a lavatory break.

Some spectators claimed that Cuevas had appeared to relieve himself in a tennis-ball can, but the players and the All England Club denied the suggestion.

Speaking after her victory, Williams said: "You can definitely slide. It's very slippery out there". But she added her comments were in the "heat of the moment" and she had no plans to sue Wimbledon. "That's just completely absurd and wrong," she said.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray brushed aside Nick Kyrgios, the so-called 'bad boy of tennis', to reach his ninth consecutive quarter-final. The world No 2 eased to a 7-5 6-1 6-4 victory.

The Australian was happy with his display in the first set but described the rest of the match as "pretty pathetic".

"I don't love the sport. But, you know, I don't really know what else to do without it," added Kyrgios.

On his preparation for the match: "To be honest, I woke up this morning and played computer games. Is that the greatest preparation? I don't know. But it was fun."

There was no such issues for Roger Federer who is yet to drop a set this tournament as he cruised past Steve Johnson 6-2 6-3 7-5 to reach his 14th Wimbledon quarter-final - a professional era record he now shares with Jimmy Connors.

He will now face Marin Cilic, who won in straight sets when they last met at the US Open two years ago and who was made to play only 45 minutes for his win over Kei Nishikori, the fifth seed who was forced to retire through injury. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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