Three-time champion Novak Djokovic overcame an injury scare to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the ninth time on Tuesday and then lashed out at the Centre Court, claiming a hole has opened up on the famous surface.
The second seed needed treatment on his long-standing right shoulder injury during his 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Earlier on Monday, Rafael Nadal’s bittersweet relationship with Wimbledon endured another twist when he was knocked out in a five-set, fourth round epic by Luxembourg journeyman Gilles Muller.
Nadal’s stunning 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 defeat came after defending champion Andy Murray and seven-time winner Roger Federer had cruised into the last-eight in straight sets.
But as well as worrying about the state of Djokovic’s shoulder, the 30-year-old slammed the poor quality of the All England Club courts.
‘I told the chair umpire that there was a hole in the middle of the court on the service line. I showed him and he was not very pleased about it,’ said Djokovic.
‘The courts are not great this year and many of the players feel the same. I am sure the groundsmen are the best in the world, but grass is the most complex surface to maintain.
‘I have played on better courts.’
Djokovic needed treatment on his right shoulder after the fifth game of the third set and a medical timeout at 4-3 to treat the same problem.
He had already summoned the doctor after just three games of the opening set.
‘We’ll see on the shoulder. It is something which I have been dragging back and forth for a while but I am still managing to play,’ he added.
Djokovic will face the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych on Wednesday for a semi-final spot, boasting a 25-2 career record over the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up.
Just weeks after winning his 10th French Open title, Nadal was condemned to his fifth exit before the quarter-finals in his last five visits to Wimbledon.
‘It was not my best match against a very uncomfortable opponent,’ said world number two Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion.
‘Well done to him. He played great, especially in the fifth set but I fought to the last ball.’
Nadal converted just two of 16 break points, while Muller fired 30 aces and 95 winners.
Defending champion Murray reached a 10th successive Wimbledon quarter-final with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-4 win over France’s Benoit Paire.
World number one Murray will face Sam Querrey for a place in the semi-finals.
Only Federer and Jimmy Connors (11 each) have reached more consecutive Wimbledon quarter-finals than Murray.
Federer reached his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final and 15th at Wimbledon with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov.
Meanwhile, Venus Williams became the oldest Wimbledon semi-finalist for 23 years as the five-time champion brushed aside French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, while Garbine Muguruza powered past Svetlana Kuznetsova to make it back to the last four on Tuesday.
Williams’ 73-minute masterclass on Centre Court clinched a 6-3, 7-5 victory that made her the most senior player to reach the semi-finals since Martina Navratilova in 1994.
The American star, who reached the last of her eight Wimbledon finals in 2009, faces Britain’s Johanna Konta or Romania’s Simona Halep in the last four on Thursday.
Williams’ victory equalled her sister Serena’s total of 86 main draw match victories at Wimbledon, the most among any active player.
Muguruza powered into her second Wimbledon semi-final in the last three years with an emphatic 6-3, 6-4 win over Russian seventh seed Kuznetsova.
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