Indoor tennis is typical of Europe where, in winters, the snow cover is thick and the winds are chilly. The obvious choice was to play on indoor carpets or indoor hard surfaces with no interruption from nature.In the good old days at Wimbledon, players had to as much fear the surface as the weather because the combination of the two could make it so difficult on slick grass.Times have changed – literally.When the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club decided that a retractable roof was a must for the Centre Court, reactions were mixed. But now it is accepted that Centre Court is fine to play on even under cover.In an age when tennis players have the next week’s schedule fixed months in advance, nobody wants to stay beyond a fortnight at Wimbledon. And another reason is that players did feel the pressure of playing more than one match in a day in case rain delays wrought havoc.Thanks to the retractable roof at Wimbledon, this fortnight we have seen marquee matches on the Centre Court despite sharp showers outside. On Tuesday, for instance while the big players continued with their matches under lights, a total of 43 matches got washed out.So efficient is the referee’s office at Wimbledon that matches are rearranged for the next day and the time lost is made up. However, a suggestion has already been made that in the next expansion plan at the All England Club, Court One should also have a retractable roof! A local paper reported that this proposal will be discussed later in 2012 after the London Olympics, though reactions have been muffled.advertisementTENNIS at Wimbledon has undergone as big change, as I had written last week. Grasscourt specialists are extinct and if today some players do approach the net for volleys, it’s more a strategy to negate the opponent.And that’s how, on Friday, we got to see the huge Jo- Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic engage in net duels.Former Wimbledon champions like Goran Ivanisevic and Richard Krajicek have played on the slower Wimbledon this fortnight in the seniors’ event on Centre Court, with a bewildered look on their faces.The grass is slower and, when the retractable roof is pulled back, it looks nice. Yet, the purists don’t really like this.So how does the next proposal to make Court One playable in all kinds of weather work? Insiders say nothing is going to be done till the end of the Olympics in 2012.There is just a three- week gap between the end of The Championships and the Olympic tennis competition. The bigger charm for participating nations is that the Olympics will be played on grass.In the normal course, one would have imagined, with the wear- and- tear on grass, it would be impossible to get the courts ready for the Olympics.One cannot forget that towards the end of July in 2012, there is as much chance of rain as now. But nobody is worried about how the courts will be readied for the Olympics as the ground staff efficiency at Wimbledon is of a high order.Tennis was never a high- profile event at the Olympics when it was reintroduced as medal sport at Seoul in 1988. In that year, Steffi Graf won all the Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold to make it a ‘ Golden Slam’. From Roger Federer to Venus and Serena Williams, each one has spoke about the romance which Wimbledon will again offer next year, though it’s about the Olympics.Past greats like John McEnroe feel Federer will bounce back and win more Grand Slam titles if he can sustain his hunger. But I am certain Federer craves for an Olympic singles medal and next year again assumes significance. AT A time when the playing surface at Wimbledon has offered no huge surprises, there has been predictability. Bad bounce is not to be seen and the ball comes at a height and pace where any player can adjust his strokes.Some of the clay-court specialists and hard-court tennis lovers play on Wimbledon with the same comfort, though the smarter ones believe in bending their knees to execute shots with more grace.Unlike The Championships, the Olympic draw is very different.It is not a draw of 128 but half the size in singles. But what’s more important in this is, all the top players don’t get into the singles and doubles draws as the emphasis is more on country representation.advertisementRomantic relics like Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are hoping they can play their fifth Olympics together, having first played at Atlanta in 1996. If someone says they are a medal prospect, take it with a table spoon full of salt.Then again, based on the ATP and WTA rankings in June 2012, we will get to know in which draws Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna get in.Am I thinking too early about it? Not so, since from the Williams sisters to lesser- known tennis journeymen, the Olympic tennis event is already being discussed.
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