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Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini practice on Centre Court for the first time

Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini make history by practicing on Center Court for the first time for Wimbledon – after players complained last year that the slippery surface was causing injuries and forced Serena Williams to retire in the first round

  • Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini practiced for 45 minutes on Center Court
  • It is the first time that players are allowed to do this for Wimbledon
  • The idea is to break something into the surface to minimize slipping in the early rounds
  • Serena Williams and Adrian Mannarino had to quit after a fall last year

Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini made this lunchtime history with 45 minutes of practice on Center Court, the first time this has happened on a Thursday before the tournament.

The idea is to break something into the surface and try to minimize the slips and slides often seen in the early rounds.

The decision comes after incidents in recent years where players have struggled to maintain a foothold on the slick, virginal surface.

Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini made history in a 45-minute training session on the Center Court

Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini made history in a 45-minute training session on the Center Court

It was the first time players were allowed to practice on the field for Wimbledon

It was the first time players were allowed to practice on the field for Wimbledon

The grass courts at SW19 are lush and green during the early days of play before they eventually wear out and can therefore be more challenging during the early rounds.

Players seemed to struggle on the surface, especially last year when star Serena Williams fell victim to Center Court.

The seven-time champion was forced to retire after losing her balance twice in the first round on the main show court during her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Serena Williams fell prey to the slippery road surface at Center Court on the first lap last year

Serena Williams fell prey to the slippery road surface at Center Court on the first lap last year

The seven-time champion was forced to retire after losing her foot twice on Center Court

The seven-time champion was forced to retire after losing her foot twice on Center Court

Williams was the second player in as many games to be injured after falling onto the field.

Adrian Mannarino had fallen in the previous match while leading Roger Federer after slipping on the surface as well.

Both players had been playing under the roof on Center Court which exacerbated this problem, making the surface smoother in the damp and humid conditions.

Williams' retirement followed Adrian Mannarino's knee injury in the previous game

Williams’ retirement followed Adrian Mannarino’s knee injury in the previous game

Mannarino had fallen in the previous match while leading Roger Federer after slipping too

Mannarino had fallen in the previous match while leading Roger Federer after slipping too

Andy Murray had said in a tweet that he found the Center Court slippery during one of his first round matches.

Brutal to @serenawilliams but center court is extremely slick out there,” he wrote. “It’s not easy to move there.”

Meanwhile, Federer had claimed that players were always bothered by the problem during the early days of the tournament.

“The first two games are always extremely difficult. But it’s always been that way,” said the eight-time Wimbledon champion.

Andy Murray sympathized with Williams who claimed it was 'not easy' to play on Center Court

Andy Murray sympathized with Williams who claimed it was ‘not easy’ to play on Center Court

Federer had claimed that players were always affected by the problem for the first few days

Federer had claimed that players were always affected by the problem for the first few days

“I feel for a lot of players it’s super important to get through those first two rounds because the grass is smoother and softer. As the tournament progresses, it usually gets harder and easier to advance.”

In previous years, the only people allowed to hit Center Court and No 1 Court during the build-up were four female All England Club members in a doubles friendly on Saturday to test that everything was in order.

That has now changed to allow about four practice sessions between professional players this week to help them prepare for the field.

Nadal (top of court) and Berrettini were the first of about four practice sessions to take place

Nadal (top of court) and Berrettini were the first of about four practice sessions to take place

High-ranking seeds and former champions are allowed to book one of two 45-minute sessions on each course.

Nadal and Berrettini were the first at 1.30 pm before Novak Djokovic was on the program with Marin Cilic.

American teenager Coco Gauff, who finished second at the French Open, is one of the players who practices on the No. 1 Court.

Meanwhile, Emma Raducanu is in tomorrow’s Wimbledon draw as she continues to recover from a side injury.

Emma Raducanu is expected to be included in Friday's Wimbledon draw despite her injury

Emma Raducanu is expected to be included in Friday’s Wimbledon draw despite her injury

The US Open champion has been practicing consistently since Sunday and took a scheduled day off from training at the All England Club today.

However, she has booked for two sessions at SW19 tomorrow, with her representatives making sure her absence was scheduled for Thursday.

Since Friday’s draw takes place at 10am, it seems inevitable that she will take her allotted place in it as the number 10 seed.

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