Unbelievably, Doha in the desert had hourly battles with rain and the tournament spent much of the week underwater. It was the sort of light drizzle that us Brits get blamed for everywhere we go, and the players were frustratingly pulled off the court up to 4 times in a match.
The main problem is that the lines get incredibly slippery with just a little rain, even though the rest of the court can take more before it becomes too dangerous. This happens because the lines are just paint on top of the court surface which also leads to the ball skidding through when it lands cleanly on a line… another nuisance. The lines cannot be put down in the same surface as that would cause it to be raised and uneven, as it is laid on top of what is already down.
To have a hard court be entirely one surface and one speed is the ideal, and I am sure there are minds working to find a way to get the lines to be the same material. But maybe that is not the best way to stop the ball skidding through and frustratingly stopping matches when the majority of the court is playable… we could just get rid of the lines?
There is a way to do this and I think it is worth a tournament giving it a trial. Lay the surface in the different sections of the court, with each section a different colour. You would need 4 different colours for the court, one for the outside, and there would be no need to paint over the top. If you have a particularly sandy surface you would be able to continue play through light drizzle pretty comfortably and no bounce would shoot through at a different pace.
Rain delays are tedious for everyone involved and it can be very draining for the players. You never quite know when you might be back on court so it is difficult to know how much to eat and what to do with your time. If you are off for a short amount of time maintaining your focus and a high state of readiness is preferable, but if it becomes longer switching off is more appropriate. The players lounge is often a busy and noisy area particularly when no one is able to play or practice, so finding a quiet corner somewhere can be helpful… I have known players to go and sit in a car or in the physio room to find some peace, but most just relax in the changing room.
It has been tough for the players this week as they have had multiple matches in a day, and with rain incoming have often not had much time between them. Physically this usually isn’t too much of a problem but mentally preparing for a completely different opponent within the hour can sometimes cause players to be flustered. Normally you will have 24 hours to think about an opponent, visualise how you are going to play, and go out and practice exactly that. It is not easy to have a quick chat with Coach while you are refueling on pasta and get in to the right mind frame in such a short time.
If the rain downpours then it is not the fault of the lines and play of course must stop, but if we could solve this issue of the lines by getting rid of them all together then we could at least play through a lot of the lighter conditions and prevent the frustration that everyone feels in fine rain.