Medics’ response to horrific incident criticized as Novak and Roger roll on
LONDON — Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered a horrific knee injury at Wimbledon on Thursday which left her screaming in pain and pleading for help, as officials were accused of freezing in the American’s desperate moment of need.
The distressing drama on Court 17, where the 32-yearold lay stricken for at least 20 minutes, pushed the title campaigns of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to the sidelines.
“Please help me! Please! Please!” screamed MattekSands as she clutched her right knee after collapsing running to the net in the first point of the deciding set of her second-round match against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
The WTA said MattekSands, who is a five-time Grand Slam doubles champion, sustained an “acute knee injury” and was taken to hospital.
Cirstea questioned why it took so long for the medical team to arrive on the court, which is situated right beside Centre Court.
“She was in shock. Her knee was in a very weird position. I’ve never seen anything like this, except in the movies,” said Cirstea.
“And, yeah, I panicked a little bit, as well. I called for help, but no one was coming.
“Everyone froze and I screamed something to the chair umpire. Bethanie was saying, ‘ Sorana, please help me.’ But I felt useless. I wished I could have done more.
“It felt forever for help to come. It was me, her husband Justin and my physio. I don’t know for how long she was on the ground, but I would say 10, 15 minutes.”
The All England Club defended its handling of the situation, claiming: “The first response to Court 17 was within one minute, by a qualified ambulance technician.”
In a statement, it added: “The player was kept on court while pain relief was given.
“The player was then transferred directly to an ambulance and taken under emergency conditions to a hospital.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic shrugged off sweltering heat of 30 C to breeze past the outclassed Adam Pavlasek 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
The three-time champion brushed aside the 136rdranked Czech to make the last 32 for the ninth year in succession.
Serbian Djokovic, the second seed whose shock thirdround loss to Sam Querrey 12 months ago precipitated a sharp decline in form, will next face Ernests Gulbis, of Latvia.
“It was a very warm day, it wasn’t easy to play point after point and some long rallies,” said Djokovic.
Gulbis, a former top-10 player, sprang a surprise as the world No 589 defeated former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Third seed Federer continued his bid for a record eighth Wimbledon title by seeing off world No 79 Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (0), 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round for the 15th time.
“I struggled at the start and couldn’t find my rhythm,” said Federer, who dropped his first service game to trail 2-0 to his 79th-ranked opponent.
“But once I got rid of the nerves I played some inspired stuff.”
The Swiss star next faces German serve-and-volleyer Mischa Zverev, who is ranked 30th in the world.
American 17 th seed Jack Sock suffered the biggest upset of the day, losing 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 to Austrian world No 217 Sebastian Ofner, who had never played a major before this week.
The women’s event was thrown wide open when Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova crashed out to world No 108 Magdalena Rybarikova, of Slovakia.
Rybarikova won 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Centre Court, earning a last-32 clash with Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.
“For me, the tournament is over. So whatever happens happens. I’m not going to pray for somebody losing or winning. That’s not my thing,” said Pliskova, who has never gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon.
Top seed Angelique Kerber eased into the third round with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Kirsten Flipkens.
German Kerber next faces Shelby Rogers who beat Lucie Safarova 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3. The defeated Czech was possibly still distracted by the events involving close friend and doubles partner MattekSands.
Meanwhile, Australian Bernard Tomic was fined $15,000 on Thursday after causing uproar by claiming he was “bored” during his lackluster straight-sets defeat to Mischa Zverev on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Tomic, who was ranked 17 th in January 2016 but is now 59th, also lost his racket sponsor, Head, as a consequence.
Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic, the runner-up to Andy Murray last year, overcame Russian Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 7-6 (9), 6-4, 7-5.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 finalist, saved two match points to see off Christina McHale 5-7, 7-6 (9), 6-3.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his second-round match against Czech Adam Pavlasek at Wimbledon on Thursday. The world No 4 advanced 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 and will next face Latvian Ernests Gulbis.