Frenchman Michael Llorda quit his singles match on Thursday, then went back out on the court to play doubles yet another odd twist in what has been an unusually injury prone week at Wimbledon.
Llorda cited hamstring problems for forcing him to stop after losing the first set of his match against 23-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy. Later, Llorda played and won his doubles match with partner Nicolas Mahut.
Asked about this unusual turn it’s common for players to pull out of doubles to focus on singles, but rare to see it done the other way around Llorda explained, “In singles, it’s too difficult and dangerous for my hamstrings. I prefer not to take any risks to play doubles. Doubles is easier. You play half court.”
Llorda(33) has five career singles titles and 25 in doubles.
Another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu, also quit while trailing 6-3, 5-1 against Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
That brought the number to 12 players who have pulled out of Wimbledon so far one short of the full tournament record, set in 2008. Nine players pulled out of the second round, which equals the open era Grand Slam record for any round.
Some of the injuries most notably, the knee injury that forced second-seeded Victoria Azarenka out of the tournament on Wednesday have been attributed to slips on the grass, which seems, to some players, much slicker this year than in years past.
Buffeted by the steady complaints, the All England Club took the unusual step on Wednesday of releasing a statement saying there was no reason to believe the court surface was to blame for the injuries.
“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years and it is well known that grass surfaces tend to be more lush at the start of an event,” part of the statement read.
Regardless, Thursday was certainly a less—frenzied day on the injury front, save Llorda’s decision to quit in singles. The Frenchman defended his choice, saying it was a simple matter of playing the odds.
“I prefer to stay focused in doubles,” he said. “I think I have more chances to win this tournament. Sometimes you have to make the choice and today was difficult, but I decide to play doubles.”