Over the last couple of weeks rain has played a major part of the tennis game. It was not the first time and it will definitely not be the last time in tennis. Although it is funny how, since the roof was put onto...
Over the last couple of weeks rain has played a major part of the tennis game. It was not the first time and it will definitely not be the last time in tennis. Although it is funny how, since the roof was put onto Centre Court at Wimbledon, it has hardly rained during those two weeks. The rain serves up frustrating conditions, returns players to locker rooms and volleys others into loss situations. So how do the players treat those rain interruptions because they can be a major problem both physically and psychologically? Every player treats the situation differently and obviously much will depend on how long the interruption lasts. The last few days of Roland Garros were annoying because of the weather and the first day in particular on the other side of the English Channel in London at The Queen’s Club was a nightmare for organisers as not one match was played. So which player has the advantage when there is a break in play? A player on a roll at that moment can have his concentration snapped while a player who has been in a slump has an opportunity to shake themselves out of the doldrums. But it can be debatable. Certainly both have the opportunity to talk to members of their team for any potential strategy change. “I started to play better in the third set and felt like I could take this match to a fifth set, and then, you know, everything could be possible, but, yeah, unfortunately there has been a rain delay when I started to feel really good on the court,” said Novak Djokovic who was enveloped with disappointment after losing the Roland Garros final. “But look, you know, I don't want to find an excuse in that, because the first rain delay maybe helped me a little bit; the second helped him (Nadal).” In Paris the damp conditions were possibly more favourable to Djokovic because they were heavier, while on grass any dampness can make things seem like an ice rink as the ball skids away and a player’s footing is undermined by the slipperiness of the court. With the Paris final being suspended overnight both players were hit with anxiety and Nadal admitted openly to be nervous all night. “I was a little bit anxious to play what remain of the match, but even if was clearly good thing for me (the match was stopped), the conditions of the court was not the right ones to play a final of a Grand Slam,” said Nadal. “I felt that was a positive stop for me. I really felt that the stop against David Ferrer in the semifinals with set and 4-1 was not positive for me. At the end it was positive for me. And the stop before that we come back to the court that with 6-4, 5-3, I felt that was not positive for me, too, neither. “That's true, the last stop was important for me, especially because the conditions of play was not the normal ones in this court.” Beside the way a player resumes a match, the time spent before can also be crucial on how they pick things up when play starts again, and as mentioned , the length of the break is a factor. There are players who want to find a corner and cover their ears with a pair of Dr. Dre headphones and listen to music, probably not mellow music because that can make them too relaxed and that wouldn’t be good. Some might sit around chatting with their team and keep things very close knit, while others play cards. It was reported when Roger Federer had a break in Paris he was playing some cards with friends, they were being watched by others and lo and behold the cards were all crested with RF. Now why is that not surprising? Possibly the biggest question mark is whether a player should eat when there is a rain break. They have to gauge things pretty accurately because returning to the court that last thing they want is to feel heavy or sluggish in chasing down returns. Let’s just say as delicious as a good Indian curry and rice with a soft naan bread is, it is not quite what a player would or should indulge in. Nor would a pasta dish with thick and rich cream sauce be the answer. If it was me, I’d say hang the match, let’s get to the food, sounds too good to reject. Ah but then I am not a professional … tennis player that is before anyone jumps in to quickly agree. A player would probably go for the pasta with a light sauce; the carbs would be good for energy and maybe quite a bit of fruit because the natural sugars would work in a similar manner. It’s not uncommon even to see a player eating a chocolate bar before a match. And again depending on the length of the break a quick shower and change of clothes, or retaping any joints gives the player an element of freshness when re-entering the court. Finally, there may be a last minute word from their respective coaches before stepping on to the grass or clay or hard court and its game-on once more for the players when, once again, it’s each man for himself as the battle continues.