Dudi Sela on height, injury and his Wimbledon exit

The Israeli player tells the JC about the painful end to his Wimbledon journey


Dudi Sela’s 50th tour-level match on grass against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, 25, was hampered by a niggling injury that forced him to retire after exactly an hour at 6-1, 6-1. 

The 32-year-old Israeli’s three singles matches, including his spectacular second-round victory over big hitting 23rd seed John Isner,  had seen him play a total of eight hours 24 minutes.

While his first round doubles defeat notched up another two hours 56 minutes. Thus nearly 11 hours of competitive tennis took its toll.

 “Yes, one hundred percent playing such long matches daily made a difference. We are not used to it. We only play five sets four times a year, and I played three days in row. Even doubles you have to focus. It’s not easy.

"During the warm up I felt ok. I felt a little twinge in my groin, but not something I couldn’t play with. But I felt really slow moving to the balls in the beginning. At 4-1  I sat down at the change of ends and when I got up I felt really a lot of pain. Then I could not push or change direction without pain. I felt really frustrated that I could see the ball but could not react.

"The medic massaged it and wrapped it, but I couldn’t move properly with the bandage, so I had to take it off. He advised me and I decided to retire not to make it worse. I’m a little disappointed; especially as we lost in the doubles after being two love up in one set.But it is the first time I have had two five-set matches in a grand slam.

"Recently I didn’t win one match, so it’s nice to be in the third round. Had I not been injured I may have played a little different. But Grigor, 11 in the rankings, was too good.

I felt good before coming to the tournament. I won the Challenger in Nottingham which gave me confidence. I like playing on grass. I feel comfortable."

As with John Isner,  Dudi ranked 90, had formulated tactics  before his match against Dimitrov.

 “I decided I’m not going to think about his big serve at all. During his service I decided not to do anything clever. Just get it back, but to focus on my serve and to win the first two points on serve.

"I thought Grigor played and moved really well. I think he will be dangerous in the tournament whoever plays him will have a difficult match.”

Much has been made about the height difference of his opponents. Sela is5ft 9ins (1.75m) while John Isner stands at 6ft 10 ins (2.08m) and Dimitrov 6ft 3ins (1.90m) .

“Yes it is a disadvantage being short, and of course  I would like to be taller. Then you have more angle on the serve and you cover more on the return. The young guys coming up are all tall.  There is nobody my size. Before 15 years ago, 200kph serve was very fast. Today even the women serve 200kph. The game has changed completely. 

"To survive I have to keep myself very fit to move well. Play percentages and mix up my game by coming in, slicing, top spin and keep changing as I did during the Isner match.” 

Dudi, who travels with his coach Yoav Ben Zvi flew back to Israel immediately for treatment.

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