LONDON, July 6, (AFP): Colourful US star Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered an horrific knee injury at Wimbledon on Thursday which left her screaming in pain and pleading for help as officials were accused of freezing in her desperate moment of need.
The distressing drama on Court 17, where the 32-year-old lay stricken for at least 20 minutes, pushed the title campaigns of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer onto the sidelines.
“Please help me! Please! Please!” screamed Mattek-Sands 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 women’s tour said Mattek-Sands had suffered a serious knee injury and had been taken to hospital.
Cirstea questioned why it took so long for the medical team to arrive at Court 17 which is right next door to the tournament’s famed Centre Court.
“She was in shock. Her knee was in a very weird position. I’ve never seen anything like this probably except in the movies,” said Cirstea.
The All England Club defended their response, claiming: “The first response to Court 17 was within one minute, by a qualified ambulance technician.
In a statement, they added: “The player was kept on court while pain relief was given. Djokovic shrugged off sweltering 30-degree heat to breeze past outclassed Adam Pavlasek 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 and reach the third round.
The three-time champion brushed aside the 136rd-ranked Czech to make the last-32 for the ninth year in succession.
Djokovic, the second seed whose shock third round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon 12 months ago precipitated a worrying decline in form, will next face Ernests Gulbis.
Meanwhile, Seven-time champion Roger Federer reached the Wimbledon third round for the 15th time on Thursday with a 7-6 (7/0), 6-3, 6-2 win over Dusan Lajovic of Serbia.
Third seeded Federer will face Germany’s Mischa Zverev for a place in the last-16.
“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 after that.”
Zverev defeated world number one Andy Murray at the Australian Open this year, but Federer has won both his meetings against the left-handed serve-and-volleyer this year, including on grass at Halle last month.
Gulbis sprang a surprise as the world number 589 defeated former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
The 28-year-old Latvian was ranked in the top 10 in 2014 — the year he beat Federer en route to the French Open semi-finals.
The women’s event was thrown wide open when third seed and title favourite Karolina Pliskova crashed to defeat against world number 108 Magdalena Rybarikova.
Rybarikova battled back from a set down to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Centre Court, earning the Slovakian a last 32 clash with Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.
Pliskova reached the US Open final last year and the French Open semi-finals last month, but the Czech world number three has a dismal record at Wimbledon and for the sixth successive year she failed to get past the second round.
“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.
Pliskova can still become world number one at the end of Wimbledon depending on the results of top seeds Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep.
Bernard Tomic may have been knocked out but the Australian was still making waves on Thursday when he was fined $15,000 after claiming he was “bored” during his lacklustre defeat to Mischa Zverev.
Tomic also lost his raquet sponsor Head as a consequence.
Former US and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded seven, took her career record over fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova to 7-1 with a 6-0, 7-5 win.
Kuznetsova next faces Slovenia’s world number 265th Polona Hercog, who reached the third round at a Slam for the first time since 2010 with a 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-2 win over Varvara Lepchenko of the United States.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up, saved two match points to see off Christina McHale 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.