WIMBLEDON, England — It’s been a Wimbledon of bad lawns and bad actors. Of weather that’s too warm and matches that — because of numerous “retirements” — were too short; a Wimbledon of flying ants and more than $33,000 in fines. And it still has a week remaining.
You can debate whether or not there’s global warming, but there’s no question the weather here this summer is the hottest since 1976. Maybe that’s the reason competitors have been giving up early — “Quitters,” is what the headline in the London Times called them. It’s definitely the reason the grass courts are in bad shape.
On Thursday Dudi Sela, the 5-9 Israeli, ousted the 6-10 American John Isner. But Saturday Sela became the ninth man in the six days of competition to take a hike. He was trailing Grigor Dimitrov, 6-1, 6-1, complained of a strained adductor muscle and quit, or “retired.”
“You can’t do anything about it,” conceded Dimitrov, a 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist. But tennis people might try.
Tuesday, the opponents of both seven-time champ Roger Federer and three-time champ Novak Djokovic, respectively Alexandr Dolgopolov and Martin Klizan, each halted after less than 45 minutes of play on Centre Court. The fans were unhappy, if restrained. At Flushing Meadows they might have thrown a fit, if not something else.
The throwing at Wimbledon was done by the Russian, Daniil Medvedev, who heaved a few coins from a gym bag at chair umpire Mariana Alves during his second-round defeat Wednesday. He was fined $14,500. Bernard Tomic, the Aussie, was fined $15,000 for announcing after his loss he was bored and didn’t respect the sport enough.
Harkening back to the days when the worst thing a John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors did was curse, the London Times headlined, “Wimbledon punishes its new brand of superbrats.” For his disrespectful remarks, Tomic also lost his Head racquets sponsorship.
Perhaps all the lunacy could be attributed to the weather. Only mad dogs and Englishmen, according to the poem, go out in the midday sun. But at Wimbledon, with the temperature on Friday reaching 86 degrees, people didn’t have to be mad, just dedicated.
The retractable roof over Centre Court, built to shield against the rain, was closed for a while to protect the grass from the sun. The spectators at other locations had no protection, other than umbrellas and hats. Thursday four people collapsed and had to be treated.
Players complained about court conditions, and Thursday, American Bethanie Mattek-Sands slipped during a singles match and tore up her right knee, suffering a dislocation and ruptured patella tendon. A Gold Medal winner in doubles with Lucie Safarova at the Rio Olympics, Mattek-Sands will need surgery.
“I’ll get through this,” said the 32-year-old Mattek-Sands.
Wimbledon, which began in 1877, has gotten through a great deal, the wife of Jeff Tarango slapping a chair umpire 1995 and that famous Isner-Nicolas Mahut match that took lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days in 2010. But nobody could recall an attack by flying ants which occurred on Wednesday.
Historically the insects leave their colonies and mate in late July or early August, but apparently because of the heat wave the movement was earlier this year. According to the Royal Society of Biology a single nest may have as many as 15,000 ants.
Sam Querrey, the American who for a second straight year has made it to the fourth round, said when the ants swarmed about him he brought it up to the umpire.
“He kind of laughed,” said Querrey. “The flowers, the bugs, they’re happy. Shrugged it off. Like, these are just bugs. We’re going to play through it.”