By Ros Satar, in Birmingham, under an umbrella.
- Four days to complete the first round
- Consecutive days of Met Office Yellow weather warnings
- Saved by investment into wet-weather facilities
BIRMINGHAM, UK – A torrential few days in Birmingham tested the Aegon Classic’s upgraded facilities to the limit, but how did the players react?
Rain. It is as British as Pimms. Just the merest mention of Wimbledon brings out brollies and a stoic sense of Dunkirk spirit, and boy was that ever needed at Birmingham this year during the Aegon Classic.
Rain reared its soggy head in perhaps the worst spell of weather here in a long time, and finally at 4:15pm on Thursday the British No. 1 Johanna Kinta finally ended the first round.
So what have the players been doing to keep themselves amused (and how has it helped them!) We take a look.
 Agnieszka Radwanska – Practice – Out in R1
“I was just trying to keep myself ready. And since couple of days, actually, trying to play as much on grass, but I was playing on indoor. Still playing, but it’s tough for sure. Especially for someone that played first week on grass. We didn’t have enough hours on grass to play a really good match.”
 Angie Kerber – Reading – Out in the Quarter-finals
Defending champion Kerber had to while away the hours reading, before she finally got going in the tournament, and even then had to try not to get distracted by a moody grey cloud threatening in her opening match.
“After the rain, it was a long break. So I was trying to stay focused and, like, trying to reading a book or something. Something to do different. Because what you can do?”
 Belinda Bencic – Grey’s Anatomy marathon – retired in R1
“I’m so addicted to Grey’s Anatomy the episodes go very fast when I am here. The (internet) is very good.
Q: Have you ever been called on to court half way through an episode?
“Oh that’s the most annoying thing ever (laughs). Then I’m like on the court I’m like ‘oh my god what’s gonna happen’ yeah – but what else can you do. You have to rest somehow, you have to be prepared. It’s very difficult, but it’s for everyone the same, so you just have to deal with it better than your opponent.”
 Petra Kvitova – Movies, Shopping – out in R2
“You know what, I forgot [a book to read] home, which it’s not very nice. So maybe I have to download it somewhere. But I like to watch some series or movies. If I have time, we go for coffee to the city under the umbrella. And it’s a beautiful shopping centre here, as well, so we’re going to spend some time there (laughing).”
 Carla Suarez Navarro – Reading, Pool/Billiards – Out in the SF
“I talk with my team. I read a book. We play billiards. We saw the Euro Cup (and she rates Spain’s chances quite well!)”
Andrea Petkovic – Movies, Reading The History of Surrealism – Out in R2
Losses on grass send her off to watch sad movies – the latest being ‘Control’ about Joy Division, but largely spends her rain delays avoiding damaging her brain waves.
“I’m sleeping and reading most of the time and I try to stay away from my phone, because I think it takes energy. I don’t know maybe I’m superstitious of this kind of electric stuff. Get’s into your brain and messes with your waves.”
Caroline Wozniacki – Tekkers! – Out in R1
This is what happens during rain delays! ⛈⚽️😏 pic.twitter.com/RcGtj6mJew
— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) June 14, 2016
Heather Watson – Blackmail (!) & Snapchat – Out in R2
“Today I was doing a lot of taking pictures of people sleeping, so I can use them later on when I need them (smiling). I won’t show you. They’ll get so mad. A bit of eating and sleeping a few Snapchat filters.”
Naomi Broady indulges in catching up with Love Island – think Big Brother, but on a beach
Konta – Tales of ITF woe – Out in R2
“Just really kind of keep a light mind. I am lucky I have my parents around and my coach, having a laugh with them and some of the other girls. I think it’s just important to keep reminding yourself to not get stressed about things that are completely out of your control.
“Last year I was playing a $25K at the beginning of the year and I finished my first round, and it literally rained for three days nonstop. It was on clay. It was so bad that the clay got destroyed and we had to finish the tournament on hard. So that was interesting. So we’re still doing good compared to that.”
Barbora Strycova – watching movies & football – Finalist
(On the Czech football team) “I mean, we were losing two love down yesterday, and then to do the draw, it’s good for us. If we would be, like, third in the group, it’s good. We don’t have so many chances. But we should beat Turkey, I have to say
“What can we do in the player lounge. Either we eat or we look at the phone or we look at Euro 2016 or we talk to each other. Nothing to do, especially before the match. You have to kind of focus and sleep. But the last three days, it was raining. I went to the hotel and watch a movie – I think Terminator 1, yeah.”
Madison Keys – Aegon Classic Champion 2016
“Sleep, play card games, and then I think the hardest thing is timing when to eat and when not to. But for the first day we got rained out in Paris, I think I just literally stayed in bed and watched movies because I knew I wasn’t going on.
“The next day was tough. We stayed on site. I slept, I ate two or three lunches, played some cards. That was about it. Then about 6:30, we finally got to go home.
Q: What kind of card games?
“What did we play? We played President mostly and Speed, and I think that was it.”
Q: Are you super competitive when playing cards?
“No (laughing). Fingers get close to being broken possibly.”
Q: Whose the best of the other players/team?
“I’m the best. Obviously. What kind of question is that (laughing). I play a lot with the American guys. That doesn’t ever get competitive. President, unfortunately, I’m not the best. That usually goes to Rocket, our fitness trainer. He tends to be President.”
Q: Where do you feel you can improve?
“It’s more in my long game and strategy (laughing). Sometimes I get a little crazy and just get really aggressive just at the start. I don’t think about later down the road when I could have used that attacking.”
The grass court season and umbrella sales continue next week.
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