(Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

There was no play yesterday, the middle Sunday. In 2019, Wimbledon restored the old tradition of the four major tournaments. The first week was replete with controversy over the slips and falls on the grass surface. A slip at three-all in the first set of her first round match ended the sixth seed Serena Williams’ record title quest. It also halted Adrian Mannarino.

In the past, Roland Garros was the only tournament that was not played on grass. The US Open changed to Har-Tru (green clay) in 1975 at the West Side Tennis Club Forest Hills. In 1978, when the venue moved to the National Tennis Centre, the surface chosen was hard-court which also replaced grass at the Australian Open.

The All Nigeria Lawn Tennis Championships was also played on 12 grass courts of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club. The surface was changed to hard-court in 1975 when a world-class tennis arena was constructed for hosting the top 32 male players under the aegis of World Championship of Tennis, the precursor of the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council and the Association of (male) Tennis Professionals, now ATP Tour.

The shocking upsets in the men’s draw commenced with Frances Tiafoe’s first round defeat of third seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Tsitsipas was the finalist in Paris where he took the first two sets from Djokovic and who was one of those considered capable of halting the Serbian ace in London.

Serena suffered the exit in the first round in which Alice Cornett of France defeated the fifth seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada. In the second round, Magda Linette of France defeated the fourth seeded Elina Svitolina from Ukraine and American Madison Brengle defeated compatriot Sofia Kenin, the fourth seed. After defeating Venus Williams in the second round, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur achieved an upset over the 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the third round.

Jabeur’s slices and drop shots did the damage to Garbine’s all-power game. In the fourth round, would she be able to tame the power game of the seventh seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland?

The host country is celebrating a debutante in 18-year old Emma Raducanu who received a wild card entry and has progressed to the fourth round. She is the first British lady to reach the last 16, since Virginia Wade won the Centenary event in 1977. As she faces Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic when the second week flags off today, the grass is drier and safer.

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