The wheelchair competition is underway at Wimbledon but the athletes and the equipment they are using are faced with one of their toughest challenges in the calendar because of the unique playing conditions of the All England Club’s courts.
In wheelchair tennis the ball is allowed to bounce twice and it requires huge upper-body strength.
Alfie Hewett, who won the men’s wheelchair doubles title last year with fellow Briton Gordon Reid, told wimbledon.com that the lawns “give that added resistance”.
He said: “So you push once, and you stop. Whereas on a hard court, and also other courts, you push and you can really glide around the court. You can’t do that on the grass because of the friction.”
For Reid, the 2016 singles champion from Scotland, the transition from the clay courts at Roland-Garros in Paris to the grass at Wimbledon is one of the most difficult in his sport.
“Physically, it is the toughest and always the most demanding on the upper body,” Reid told wimbledon.com.
“It‘s the one that players come out the most tired from.”
He said that some players adjust to the grass by changing their wheels and the tyre pressure.
“Grass is the most physical surface for us, you push once and you only move about one metre,” said Diede de Groot, the defending women’s wheelchair Wimbledon champion from the Netherlands.
Although the Parisian clay is “comparable to a hard court,” not all clay courts at the same, she said.
“Clay at other tournaments, for example in the Netherlands, can be tough to play on. Sometimes you can see the tracks in the clay and that really affects the way you play.”