Another 2 bite the dust at Wimbledon
LONDON -- Frenchman Michael Llorda quit his singles match Thursday, then went back out on the court to play doubles -- yet another odd twist in what has been an unusually injury prone week at Wimbledon.
Llorda cited hamstring problems for forcing him to stop after losing the first set of his match against 23rd-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy. Later, Llorda played and won his doubles match with partner Nicolas Mahut.
Asked about this unusual turn -- it's common for players to pull out of doubles to focus on singles, but rare to see it done the other way around -- Llorda explained, "In singles, it's too difficult and dangerous for my hamstrings. I prefer not to take any risks to play doubles. Doubles is easier. You play half court."
Llorda, 33, has five career singles titles and 25 in doubles.
That brought the number to 12 players who have pulled out of Wimbledon so far -- one short of the full tournament record, set in 2008. Nine players pulled out of the second round, which equals the open era Grand Slam record for any round.
Some of the injuries -- most notably, the knee injury that forced second-seeded Victoria Azarenka out of the tournament Wednesday -- have been attributed to slips on the grass, which seems, to some players, much slicker this year than in years past.
A number of players were asked about it Thursday, the day after seven players pulled out.
Novak Djokovic called conditions for his match, played on Centre Court with the roof closed after the rain began, "a bit dangerous at the start of the match, I thought."
Djokovic slipped down in the first set, but quickly got up and resumed play, no worse for wear.
"If you have a little bit of a cloudy conditions, or certain humidity, then the grass absorbs that humidity and becomes very, very wet and slippery," Djokovic said after his straight-sets win. "That's why it makes it dangerous."
Serena Williams, also a straight-set winner Thursday, said watching the action from the day before prepared her.
"Seeing all the falls, seeing all the slips, I definitely was a lot more aware going out there today, a little more on my toes," Williams said. "So for me, it played OK. But I went in there with a mind frame of be careful and be ready."
Buffeted by the steady complaints, the All England Club took the unusual step Wednesday of releasing a statement saying there was no reason to believe the court surface was to blame for the injuries.
"The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event," part of the statement read.
Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur more or less agreed. She reported no problems moving during her straight-sets victory on Court 18.
"Maybe it's just a big coincidence that everything kind of happened yesterday," she said.
Regardless, Thursday was certainly a less-frenzied day on the injury front, save Llorda's decision to quit in singles. The Frenchman defended his choice, saying it was a simple matter of playing the odds.
"I prefer to stay focused in doubles," he said. "I think I have more chances to win this tournament. Sometimes you have to make the choice and today was difficult, but I decide to play doubles."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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