Wimbledon Diary - Thursday 28 June, 2012
A RARE ROYAL VISIT
The increased police presence gave a clue that a special Royal was on the way on Wednesday - His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who dropped into Wimbledon after an absence of some 42 years since his last visit to The Championships in 1970.
His wife, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, is a staunch tennis fan and a regular visitor to Wimbledon. It has been said that she persuaded Prince Charles to tag along.
The Duchess arrived first at The Club and made polite chit-chat with Andy Roddick on the Competitors' Lawn as she waited for Prince Charles, who arrived later to be greeted by Tim Henman.
Roddick said: "I got to meet The Queen a couple of years ago and these are things you realise you don't get to do very often; they are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We always forget the magnitude of Wimbledon and who might be watching."
The Royals also met three former Wimbledon champions - Frank Sedgman (1952), Ashley Cooper (1958) and Neale Fraser (1960).
The Royal couple then sat in the first row of the Royal Box as Roger Federer walked onto Centre Court for the day's first match.
He and Fognini stood side by side as they bowed awkwardly toward the Royals, and Prince Charles responded with a wave and grin.
"They do brief you beforehand," Federer said.
"I guess you don't do anything stupid. You behave. Obviously we were asked to bow, which is obviously no problem to do. We're thrilled for the tennis family that they came to watch Wimbledon today."
Later Prince Charles and Camilla enjoyed a conversation with Federer after watching his three-set win.
On 24 June, 2010, Her Majesty the Queen, visited Wimbledon for the first time since 1977, when Virginia Wade won the ladies' singles title.
Pundits are hoping for the arrival of HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in the full knowledge that both Prince William and Katherine love to watch tennis.
Pippa Middleton, the Duchess's sister, graced the Royal Box on Wednesday.
MERTON HELPS WIMBLEDON TO RUN SMOOTHLY
Merton Council devotes a great deal of time and energy to making sure the Wimbledon Tennis Championships run smoothly by taking away people's litter, to making sure owners are not careless when leaving pets in cars while they watch the tennis.
The Council carries out a special clean-up operation around Wimbledon prior to the championships and during Wimbledon fortnight collects an average of five tonnes of waste each day from the waiting public outside the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
It provides a service to empty the temporary toilets with their gully-cleaning machines to service the queue while 6 kilometres of roads outside the grounds receive extra sweeping during the tournament.
Traffic and parking around the Club is controlled by the Council which puts up temporary signing and establishes temporary waiting restrictions, one-way systems, and the use of traffic cones and barriers, as well as fencing to control the movement of pedestrians and cars.
The Centre and No 1 Courts are regulated under the Fire Safety and Safety At Sports Grounds Act to ensure that all spectators have a safe environment to enjoy and safety certificates are regularly issued and reviewed.
The ground and the stands are subject to detailed inspections prior and during the championships to ensure that safety levels are maintained to a high standard.
All major developments and improvements that take place at the club are controlled under the building regulations by Merton Council Building Control.
The Council also works with the police during the tennis fortnight to reduce sale of tickets illegally to visitors to the tennis, and to prevent illegal street-trading in the area around the championships.
Wimbledon is the largest single outdoor catering operation in the UK.
Merton Environmental Health Commercial Team is responsible for the enforcement of Food Safety and Staff Health & Safety at the Championships (Building Control are responsible for most of the public safety) and for the Club all year.
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from Merton visit the club throughout the year and attend various meetings to discuss the next championships.
Trading Standards Officers liaise with the AELTCC in the months approaching the Championships and carry out enforcement visits throughout the Championship Fortnight, including advice and assistance to the Club on a wide range of issues such as weights and measures, price marking, trade descriptions and trademarks.
All food outlets and bars are visited to ensure that correct price information is being given, and all the beer meters and spirit measures are tested to ensure that visitors receive a full measure.
Officers check for counterfeit goods in and around the ground throughout the championship and in recent years there have been no counterfeiting problems in the Merton area due to our heavy presence.
The RSPCA patrols the car park created in nearby Wimbledon Park to make sure no owners have left their pets in the car without adequate ventilation, shade and water.
NADAL SNIPES AT BEST OF THREE SET MATCHES AT OLYMPICS
The forthcoming Olympics continue to dominate much of the news.
Rafael Nadal has criticised the decision to play the Olympic tennis tournament over the best of three sets rather than the five sets employed at Wimbledon and the other Grand Slams.
The Spaniard, who won the Gold medal in Beijing four years ago, fears best of three could turn the Olympic event into a lottery as it is to be played on grass.
Only the men's singles final will be played over five sets and Nadal said: "It's great to have the Olympics here in Wimbledon, but playing best of three sets on grass in a very important competition makes the tournament more difficult for everybody because there are no favourites then.
"That makes the tournament a little bit more crazy. Everybody can win even more than on hard or clay, because playing best of three sets, the match can be decided in just a few points.
"So that's probably the negative thing. In every match, you are at the limit.
"I don't say it's a 'crazy idea'. But it is a little bit more difficult to predict what's going to happen."
OLYMPIC ACCEPTANCE BLUES
The list of players accepted into the Olympic Tennis Event was released by the ITF on Tuesday and, of course, not everyone is happy, particularly those who got left out.
Great Britain will have eight players at the Olympic tennis tournament after wildcards were given to the nation's top four women.
Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha will play in the singles, while Laura Robson and Heather Watson team up for doubles.
Andy Murray is the only man to qualify for singles, and will play in the doubles with his brother Jamie, along with Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.
The mixed doubles selections will be made at the start of the tournament.
Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, however, has been grumbling at the tournament organisers for failing to give him a doubles wildcard.
Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002, has been handed a wildcard for the singles, but the 31-year-old and partner Chris Guccione weren't given the same courtesy for the doubles.
"Yeah, I am disappointed. I can't work that out for the life of me. I guess playing as much Davis Cup as you do doesn't count for everything," said Hewitt after his 6-3 6-4 6-4 defeat against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round at Wimbledon.
Meanwhile the fur has been flying in India.
The All India Tennis Association was forced backtrack and field two men's doubles teams for the London Games after both Mahesh Bhupathi and regular partner Rohan Bopanna refused to play with the country's top-ranked doubles player Leander Paes.
Last Thursday, the AITA defused the row by announcing that Paes would partner Vishnu Vardhan, while the Bhupathi-Bopanna partnership would remain intact for the doubles event and Paes would also partner Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles.
Mirza has since accused the AITA of using her as ‘bait' to placate doubles specialist Paes, the world number seven, as discontent continued to rumble over the country's controversial selection process for the Olympics.
"...what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis," Mirza said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The whole episode reeked of ‘male chauvinism', the 25-year-old added, feeling she had been ‘offered as compensation to partner one of the feuding champions to lure him into accepting to play with a men's player he does not wish to play with'.
"This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country," added Mirza, who is based in Dubai following her marriage to former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik.
Mirza, who prefers Bhupathi as her mixed doubles partner having won the French Open title together earlier this month, said she was ready to play with whoever she was paired with and it would not affect her performance in London.
"...I can assure all my countrymen that I shall never allow these difficult circumstances to come in the way of giving my very best when the Games begin," she said.
And then there is former world number two, Tommy Haas, who says he's hurt by a snub from German Olympic selectors, which has resulted in him being cut out of any chance for a wild card entry into the London Games.
OTHER OLYMPIC NEWS
The giant Olympic Rings hanging on Tower Bridge were officially unveiled on Tuesday exactly one month ahead of the Opening Ceremony.
The aluminium rings, which were manufactured in Yorkshire at a cost of £259,817 ($406,146/€325,005) and installed at an additional cost of £53,000 ($82,855/€66,292), were lowered in to place at precisely 10am GMT after the orders were given by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
The Major was on the River Thames in a launch located just in front of Tower Bridge with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, Britain's Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt and British International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member Sir Craig Reedie aboard.
Tuesday also marked the opening of the Main Press Centre (MPC) at the Olympic Park in Stratford, the first venue be opened and made fully operational by London 2012.
The giant MPC will host up to 6,000 of the world's press and photographic media during the Games.
It provides 31,000 square metres of office space across four floors for journalists and photographers as well as International Olympic Committee (IOC) and London 2012 staff.
Across the Olympics and Paralympics, the MPC will be open for 52 days.
"Like the athletes competing at London 2012, the world's writers and photographers who will be based in the MPC are at the top of their profession," said London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.
"We will offer them state of the art facilities so they can tell the extraordinary stories that will come out of the Games."
The MPC will become a ‘home from home' for the media with a 200 metre-long High Street located outside featuring a range of shops and services including a post office, dry cleaners, pharmacy and general store.
After his Olympic duties were completed, Sebastian Coe made his way to Wimbledon as a Royal Box guest at the invitation of the Chairman, Philip Brook.
MURRAY'S WATCH DEAL
Andy Murray, Britain's number one tennis player, has signed an ambassador agreement with Swiss watch brand Rado.
The Scot will wear the Rado D-Star 200 Automatic, the official watch of the Aegon Championships.
He will also become the face of the D-Star 200 collection for summer 2012.
BNP PARIBAS SPONSORS HURLINGHAM
IMG HAS brokered a deal for banking group BNP Paribas to extend its title sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic, an annual exhibition tournament played at The Hurlingham Club, London.
Under the terms of the agreement, BNP Paribas will continue to receive on and off-court exposure, plus an on-site promotional stand to push its 'We are tennis' brand.
OVER IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
It took just 7 seconds for the French Open runner-up Sara Errani to dispatch qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1 6-3 victory in the first round.
But how? Action was suspended by rain a night earlier, with the 10th-seeded Errani at match point as the 132nd-ranked Vandeweghe served.
When they resumed, after the customary several-minute warm-up ritual of baseline strokes, volleys, overheads and serves, Vandeweghe tossed up a ball and hit it into the net.
Moments later, she hit her second serve into the net, too, to complete the double fault that ended the match - leaving both women smiling and spectators guffawing.
Errani joined in the laughter as she packed away her racket bag, and kept right on giggling during her news conference.
Asked by an Italian reporter to recount what happened, Errani said, justifiably: "There's not much to tell."