After practicing in London all week, I arrived in Manchester ready to hustle through three rounds of qualifying. Unfortunately, the afternoon before play started we were hit with a bit of a bombshell. Due to the rain and the cold weather, the groundsman felt that the grass courts needed a few days to dry out. Therefore, the qualifying rounds of the tournament were to be played on the synthetic courts.
The best way I can describe a synthetic court is terrifying. What they are is basically a carpet covered with a thin layer of sand. They are incredibly slippery. Unfortunately, I could only get a 30 minute practice in as there were so many players trying to squeeze a hit in on this foreign surface. I hoped that if I could somehow just get through my first two qualifying matches they might move play to the grass courts the following day.
I woke up early the next day and managed to sneak in another 30 minute practice on the new surface, but I still felt very uneasy on it. My match started with an easy hold, but from that point on there was nothing easy about it. I was slipping and sliding and struggling to get in position and stay balanced. Having not had much experience playing on this surface I was, quite simply, lost out there. My opponent, a Czech counterpuncher looked a lot more at home on the slippery surface as he chipped, sliced, and slid his way to victory. I fought as much as i could, but I went down 6-3 6-2. It was an incredibly frustrating match, and I was very upset afterwards. This was the last thing I had expected to happen. Having trained on grass and fast surfaces all week, I felt really unprepared for the absolute polar opposite type of surface.
To add a little insult to injury, my partner and I didn’t get into the doubles draw. According to the organizers of the tournament, the ATP point that I got in Israel has not been processed by the ITF yet and therefore doesn’t show up on their system. Apparently it takes 2 weeks or more for the system to update. So that’s a bit frustrating but there’s nothing I can do about it.
Although my tournament is over, I’ve decided to hang around in Manchester and use the time to get as much quality practice as possible. Hopefully the sun will make an appearance, the grass courts will open up, and I can put in some good work and preparation for next week.
I’ll update you on how things are going later in the week.