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Night tennis raising the roof at Wimbledon

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Tom Fordyce | 18:12 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

When Wimbledon changes, it likes to do so slowly and with sufficient deference to tradition that most casual observers never notice.

Which is why the decisive intervention of the Centre Court roof in this year's tournament is creating such a stink in the normally refined SW19 air.

All three of the most dramatic matches in the first week owed their ending and atmosphere to the 1,000 tonne lid on the famous old arena: Rafa Nadal's stunning second-round defeat by Lukas Rosol, Roger Federer's five-set comeback over Julien Benneteau and Andy Murray's late-night dash past Marcos Baghdatis.

Had it simply been raining in south-west London, the story would have slipped away there. That the roof came over in two of those cases because of bad light, and in the third at midday despite play continuing uninterrupted on all other courts, has put the All-England Club in something of a pickle.

Murray's match against Baghdatis finished just after the 11pm deadline on Saturday

Its own guidelines offer limited assistance. Section (a) of the Club's published roof protocol appears almost deliberately vague.

"The Championships is an outdoor daytime event. Therefore, in good weather, the roof will only be used if it is too dark to play on without it."

If that seems contradictory, the confusion does not end there. On Saturday night we had the curious sensation of Cinderella coming to Centre as Murray tried desperately to rattle through the decisive set before the church towers chimed 11.

Court-side there was bewilderment. Why was the cut-off time 11pm? How much wriggle-room would the officials allow? Why start if there was no chance of a finish?

Richard Lewis, chief executive AELTC, confirmed to the BBC on Monday the roof's original planning permission required play to end by that time.

"We are based in a residential area," he explained. "There are safety issues - transport has to be available at Southfields Station. We don't want 15,000 people stranded there.

"There was some communication with the local authority (Merton Council) on Saturday. It was relatively informal.

Centre Court stands out like a beacon when play goes into the evening

"We didn't have to bring the players off the moment the clock ticked from 10.59pm to 11pm; the aim was to stop the game at the fairest possible time for the players. 11pm is the definitive cut-off time and then we bring players off the court as fairly as possible."

Privately, Lewis is probably aware that Baghdatis's sudden capitulation saved him an even bigger headache. Had the match been suspended at such a critical point we may have witnessed the most middle-class riot in sporting history.

All three late-night matches created an atmosphere very different from the usual restrained Centre Court ambiance - boisterous, well refreshed, partisan in the extreme.

Many of the original ticket-holders had gone home, replaced by frantic fans that had queued all day at the re-sale booth on the back end of Henman Hill and enjoyed plenty of refreshment while doing so.

As with the denouement of Nadal's shock defeat, it created something rather special - an audience befitting such thrilling sporting theatre - as well as the scheduling of fantasy for television executives.

So should this signal the start of regular late-night sessions on Centre?

Both the US Open and Australian Open have held night matches for years; the French Open will do the same from 2017, when its own roof over Court Philippe Chatrier is complete.

Perhaps, goes one argument, Wimbledon should look for a solution at the other end of the day and follow the example of its cricketing cousin in St John's Wood by starting play on the show courts closer to the 11am of Lord's, rather than the current 1pm.

Lewis is unconvinced. "I think it's extremely unlikely that we would schedule night sessions at Wimbledon," he says.

"You take somewhere such as Melbourne - that's a city-centre location. Most people drive to the US Open.

"Early starts are a possibility. But we do get complaints from people travelling from all over the country who can't get here for a 1pm start.

"You've also got the situation where there is wear and tear on the court. And Centre Court is the one which is subject to more play than any other. We play on grass; it's a natural surface but there is wear and tear."

Lewis is being a little cute. If a spectator's journey is so long that they can only get to Wimbledon for 1pm, they're unlikely to be able to stay until 11.02pm, when Murray finally polished off Baghdatis.

It could be argued the later start is less about convenience and more about corporate. Test cricket has a 40-minute break for lunch and 20 minutes for tea built into its rhythm. Tennis does not, so corporate entertainment must create its own time.

There is another problem with Lewis's argument.

The All England Club might say they won't schedule night sessions, but by putting Murray on Centre under the lights at 7.30pm they were in effect doing exactly that.

A precedent has also been set that spectators now expect to see maintained. On Monday, with the roof on, the day's play was curtailed at 8pm despite Murray's match being unfinished, several other big ones yet to start and both conditions and crowd perfectly set for tennis.

From the players too there is a desire for clarity.

Nadal hinted heavily after his defeat to Rosol that the 40-minute delay to close the roof after he won the fourth set had cost him precious momentum. Murray went further, and said that Wimbledon's decision to have the roof shut all day on Friday was something "they might have made a mistake on".

The Briton also concedes that his status as home favourite may give him an additional advantage.

While his fourth-round match against Marin Cilic on Monday was on Court No.1 - and inevitably delayed by rain - his first three were on Centre, as will be any subsequent contests.

The roof allowed Murray to get his match finished on Saturday where others were delayed, giving him precious extra rest.

"Other years I would have had to play three sets on Monday," he admitted. "Cilic played 17-15 in the fifth set. I'm sure he would have rather I was having to play three sets on Monday before playing him."

Neither does the court behave in quite the same way. The Wimbledon surface has got noticeably slower over the past five years; under the roof and lights, that trend is even more noticeable.
We may have to get used to it.

The weather for the rest of this week is forecast to stay wet and grey. British summers are increasingly reliably unreliable. And Lewis, intriguingly, may have controversial ideas about how to cope with them.

"A roof on Court One is under consideration," he admitted to the BBC, "although it's not as straight-forward as you might think."
For Wimbledon in this soggy summer, very little is.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ever get the feeling that the tournament is organised more for the people who organise it than for the players or fans?

    Roof and night matches will make it much more of a spectacle.

    Also, no start until 1pm - because people can't get there! Ridiculous reasoning! Who can't get the for a daytime event by 1pm - the 8am train from Glasgow will get you there for that! How many people are coming further than that?! Uncle Fred from Aberdeen?

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah, no tennis in this evening even with a roof. No tennis after 11pm with a roof. Making Murray wait until tomorrow to play, even though he started before Djkovic? All a very poor show indeed.

  • Comment number 4.

    One way to reduce need for this is to make players hurry up between points. Play has slowed down enormously in the past 30 years. 30 years ago, a 5 set match could routinely be completed in 3 hours and anything over 4 hrs was a real rarity. Nowadays 3 hours may just be three 7-6 sets.

    If you cut the time between points and enforced the rule, I bet you would reduce match times. Just as if you reduced changeover times to 60 seconds from 90 seconds. If you were really nasty, you could say that players could only bounce the ball six times before serving. That'd hurry a few up significantly, wouldn't it??

    Thing is, that's only in the remit of the world governing bodies, not individual tournaments.

    The only way you could really get a daily 'night match' to work would be to start on centre at 12 noon and play 2 matches up to 6pm. Then have a break for supper for the corporates before starting the night session with the roof closed and lights on at 7.30pm. There might be the odd day where you could slot in an extra match in the afternoon if the first two were double quick. But if it were one men's and one women's, it'd usually come in at 4 - 5 hrs. If you had a 15 - 20 minute break between the two, everyone could go off to the facilities, stretch their legs etc.

    I'm not sure how much people would enjoy a session spanning lunchtime though.

  • Comment number 5.

    #4

    Good idea. They should also ban the towel between points.

    I don't see why spanning lunch is a problem, they span dinner so what's the difference.

  • Comment number 6.

    "an audience befitting such thrilling sporting theatre"

    Well, apart from the procession of drunken loud mouth idiots desperate to shout a really loud comment just as the rest of the crowd quietens down

  • Comment number 7.

    keep it just the way it is right now. You get enough outdoor, 'light-time' tennis in (i.e. midday- early/mid evening). The lights & roof really in my opinion are the best thing to happen to the championships since nadal upped his game and gave federer a fight back in '08. The atmosphere seems to come through the telly, one can only imagine what its like to be there. And the usual, aforementioned time-wasting mid-game, between games etc. went out the window in murray-bagdahtis, murray furiously, hurriedly rushing to get the final games in. While undoubtedly the final should be in the daytime, preferably non-roof, having night-time, roof-on tennis is an excellent, complimentary option.

  • Comment number 8.

    Agree with #4 - some players are incredible in their between-points routines, you could tighten that up considerably.

    As for the question of night play, I'd prefer to keep it to day-time tennis myself unless you had more court options 'under the lights'. Or do you plan it so the top seeds (on that day's play) always play the night match, and keep it to one scheduled match on Centre Court?

    During other times, I would only use the roof when it actually rains or close it prior to the start of the match in the case of inclement weather as it does subtly change the playing field.

  • Comment number 9.

    Seems utterly bizarre that play must not go on after 11pm on the basis of 'health & safety' or transportation issues.

    Let's face it, if you have a ticket for centre court and you are travelling by train, then common sense suggests that it is imperative that you must catch the last train - then you leave with sufficient time to get said train.

    Information on train times widely available, clocks/watches mean you always know the time... There is no realistic reason not to have night sessions.
    And why wasn't Murray's match switched to centre after Djokovic finished?

  • Comment number 10.

    why not have a roof for court 1 and 2 today murrays mathced was cancelled and will play tommorow whereas djoko finished his match on centre court, havng a roof in court 1 and court 2 will will benefit seeds who are 4th 5th or 3rd seeds. The organisors are so dumb why not make the roofs in roof 1 and 2 and if they do it in the near future than they will look dumb for doing it when they could have done it before

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course all these night sessions are showing up Today At Wimbledon for the sheer incorrectly-scheduled awkwardness of it all.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Centre Court roof is the greatest innovation in the history of Wimbledon and essential to the paying public, the corporate entertainment world, and most importantly the broadcasters and millions watching at home. It is already an absolutely core part of the experience, and that's coming from me just watching on TV. No-one's seriously suggesting we go back to the bad old days of BBC1 rerunning the 1980 Borg-McEnroe tiebreak for the 387th time.

    But yes, I get Nadal's and others' sentiment about consistency. Do it like this; the tournament director decides an hour before play begins whether the roof should be open or closed, and stay that way. Still close the roof if necessary when it starts raining.

    Schedule the roof to close, if open, before the beginning of a late game, say one which starts after 6 or 7pm, which is likely to be interrupted by bad light otherwise.

    Don't allow a set to start after 10pm; this way, the game can be halted at a reasonable point (between sets) and still let everyone get a train home and not miss the action.

    The roof takes 40 minutes to open or close; I make that 10% of the time play was ongoing on Centre today, and that's too much to lose. Be consistent with it and you preserve no play and sporting integrity all in one fell swoop.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why is having a roof on court one contraversial? please explain. It's a necessity

  • Comment number 14.

    re point 2 and 9 for anyone who has been to wimbledon or as i did, live 50 yards from No1 court, you will understand that wimbledon is in the middle of a residential area and for that reason 14000 fans coming out at 12, 1 or 2 in the morning may not be favourable. part of the planning was consent with neighbours and restrictions before it being passed. The district line at southfields station(the nearest) is not an all night line and getting spectators back to their respective homes/ hotels would be a nightmare for a late late finish. if it was in the centre of london, or in a location like melborne away from residential area then it would easily be plausable to extend the time. would the ball boys/girls be allowed to stay up so late with our laughable health and safety regs who know lol. the fact there is a roof now and it is extendable is a move forward definately but there has to be a cut of point the fact it was marginally extended shows common sense but the players, spectators and officials are all aware of the situation

    wimbledon/southfields is a quiet residential area 50 weeks a year - common sense has to prevail. trying to get home to there or away from there after 11.30 on trains and tubes is vvv limited so unless there are 4000 taxis waiting there is a time limit

  • Comment number 15.

    The Djokovic match finished at around pretty much 8. Murray was already a set and a break up. They could have easily finished that match, or continued with Tsonga-Fish/Gasquet-Mayer or even start Ferrer/JMDP.

    To be honest, I feel the most sorry for the winner of Gasquet-Mayer. All the other three men in their half of the draw were able to finish their matches and will get the extra days rest. However, they have rescheduled the (potentially long) Gasquet-Mayer match tomorrow on No3 Court, when it is forecast to rain, meaning that the draw could be completely held up by Wednesday, meaning Gasquet-Mayer is still yet to be finished, whilst the rest of that draw, particularly Novak Djokovic benefit from several extra days rest.
    At least Murray got the furthest through his match than the rest of the people in his half of the draw. Only Tsonga-Fish had even been started today, whilst poor old Baker/Kohlschreiber have been dumped on Court 12, when the match has yet to start! At least Ferrer/JMDP will be finished tomorrow.

    If I was scheduling after today, considering more rain is forecast tomorrow, I'd have stuck Gasquet-Mayer on Centre, followed by Murray-Cilic and Tsonga-Fish and, time depending, tried to squeeze Ferrer/JMDP on there as well.
    Screw the Women's QFs. They have all caught up and it wouldn't matter if they were played on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. A level-playing field (or level as possible) is more important in my opinion.

    Still annoyed they didn't throw an uncompleted match on Centre once is was obvious Djokovic was going to cakewalk Troicki.

  • Comment number 16.

    An 11am start seems a no-brainer really, there's no downside to that. Closing the roof before a match begins if there's a good chance of rain makes sense too, avoiding the messy situation Nadal found himself in. But I understand why they have to stop at 11pm, there doesn't seem much they can do about that.

    The main point is the roof is still new, and Wimbledon is still working out what it can and can't do - and more importantly, what it should and shouldn't do. They'll get it right.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Wimbledon an outdoors, daylight tournament", they say. Why did they spend a preposterous amount of money on this hideous construction, which additionally produces all sorts of unfair situations, mostly against the players.

    The roof should never have happened. One can only say, "Give at most two hoots about what the other grand slams are doing."

  • Comment number 18.

    What I find utterly ridiculous is that, if the roof is needed during a match on Centre Court, that it takes so long to get the roof closed. It delays matches by some ridiculous amount of time like 45 minutes.

    Only in Britain would something as simple as closing a roof on a tennis court take so infernally long. No wonder this country is in the state it's in...

  • Comment number 19.

    The roof is fantastic. The floodlit evening matches have some intangible extra excitement, and they should play every night, as long as there are matches still to finish. Where was Murray last night?

    I used to lose the will to live when it was raining at Wimbledon and the options were:

    1. Endless re-runs of 'classic' matches from the 80's or 90's.
    2. The experts waffling about any subject tenuously related to tennis they could think of.
    3. A certain singer.

    The roof guarantees some tennis. As for this curfew, let's hope whoever agreed to that is now in alternative employment. Half of London is still just putting its face on at 11pm. What about boxing matches, football matches that go on until whenever? Rock concerts? Did the Stoned Posers even take to the stage by 11pm for their pension fund cash-grab over the weekend?

    Put one on Court 1 as well, asap. Make it close a bit faster, though.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is absolutely a corporate gimmick (playing under the roof). Slower courts and late night matches under the roof are absolutely spoiling the sheen of the tournament.

  • Comment number 21.

    As somone who works office hours (with a fairly lengthy commute) the roof has made it more likely that I will see some meaningful live tennis- which is great. 11 pm seems a fair cut off point -although I do think they need a clearer policy about when the roof is/isn't going to be used - when they brought it in I was clear I understood the policy. Now I'm not so sure...

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with Nadal when he says he lost momentum by having to temporarily stop when he did, but he would have had to stop anyway regardless of whether the roof was there or not, owing to bad light. So it's a non-argument.

    Play should start earlier. Most people should be able to get there on time from wherever they are travelling, and, if they can't, I'm sure most people would prefer to see the end of a match than the start of one, if they had to choose.

    Night sessions are a non-starter as there isn't the transport provision.

    I don't recall the roof being employed as much in previous years, so it's inevitable that there are some issues. What I don't understand is why it was across all day Friday, but not yesterday when the forecast was much worse. I also don't understand why some matches were rained off yesterday and others were still going. Surely the rainclouds weren't that selective?!

  • Comment number 23.

    @ 18 greenandpurple - how long should it take to do something "so simple" close a roof over a lawn tennis stadium and make the conditions fit for play then? As I understand it the roof doesn't take that long to close but they need to put the air conditioning system on and that will simply take time to take affect."So simple" that US are still only talking about doing at Arthur Ashe (constructed in the mid-90s)?

    It was just over half an hour for the resumption of play in Murray's match - they ought to have closed prior to play though - it was unlikely in the extreme that the game was going to be finished before sunset, that's where the time was wasted if any

  • Comment number 24.

    Millions were spent on a roof in case of rain delays. Yesterday it was raining but after the Djokovic match, nothing. If they didn't want to put a singles on why not a doubles? The Williams needed to finish and she is due a singles match today as is one of her opponents.
    I don't think the club know how to use the roof properly at the moment. Don't they want a British winner? Fed and Djokovic sitting pretty at home our man slugging out between rain delays. Sometimes we are a bit too fair. It wouldn't happen at the other slams.

  • Comment number 25.

    what time is Murrary due on court?

  • Comment number 26.

    It's a BBC site and isn't the roof all about provising something for television to show when it rains? What's missing from the article is an assessment of what the TV companies will want when the next contract renewal comes up. I'm guessing early starts aren't popular with US TV but that late night finishes, around US teatime, are. Evening finals would fit nicely into the US weekend afternoon slots. Sport bends the knee to TV so I guess whether we get evening sessions/early starts may come down to what the networks want.

  • Comment number 27.

    What baffles me and showqs how out of touch these organisers are is that they dont seem to take into account exactly what matches they schedule for te hcentre court on a rainy day . Take today for instance ,we have del potro v ferrer and then 2 womens matches which are a max of 3 sets each and thats it while the other courts will probably be rained off again.

    why not use a bit of foresight,start at 12pm and use the entire permissable time upto 11pm and schedule in additoinal matches after the womens ones have finished. I guarantee the tennis on centre court will be over by 6-7pm and we'll have a backlog of fixtures with an empty court available.Its just ridiculous.

  • Comment number 28.

    #23 fridaysboy

    You obviously didn't see the Paszek match in the first week, when the match was held up for 45 minutes while they closed the roof. Play was halted and it was at least 20 minutes before the roof even started moving!

    In that 20 minutes, a fair amount of rain got into the bowl of the court, meaning that your beloved air conditioning system had to work for longer once the roof did finally close and there was another delay of around 15 minutes before play could resume.

    That initial, needless delay in closing the roof was down to nothing more than good, old fashioned British inefficiency.

    I agree with you on one thing though - if the weather or light is looking likely to be a problem during a match, close the damned thing before play starts.

    Or what's to stop it being closed while play is underway? The noise? At least it'll distract from the grunting a bit...

  • Comment number 29.

    #27
    In fairness the people that bought Court One tickets for today expected two Ladies Q/Fs and it's only right that the organisers try to give them that. What I do find odd is that the two Q/Fs on Centre are from opposite sides of the draw, which means if it rains today there is the possibility one player in each semi will have played two days running versus a player that had a rest day.

  • Comment number 30.

    Why WHY when centre court has a roof and there is a terrible weather forecast, did they not play on centre court last night till 11pm, why did they not close the roof this morning and start play early 10am or 11am. WHY, because wimbledon is organised by ex military types, which means its regimental and organised with the same military precision as the charge of the light brigade!

  • Comment number 31.

    @29
    I understand and i'm not suggesting they dont put the 2 ladies qf's on centre but that they should have sufficient understanding of our weather to start the matches at 11am-12pm and factor in the realistic possibility that they can actually get 4 or 5 matches on centre court today.
    Whats the point in having a roof if you arent going to take advantage of the opportunity it brings to alleviate backlogs.

  • Comment number 32.

    Play should stop once daylight is not sufficient irrespective of that hideous roof being in place or not.

    Instead of playing tennis under floodlights till late at night AELTC should have regular play on the middle Sunday, a day for the general public and school children who could buy their tickets on the day. That's the way to spread 'tennis message' to youngsters.

  • Comment number 33.

    And why does the AELTC persist in having vacant courts standing by on a perfectly dry middle Sunday? The programme for the second Monday is overcrowded as it is and any delays just create havoc.

    Furthermore, in this commercial era, no other major sporting event would tolerate taking the weekend off, when fans have the availability and desire to watch. The AELTC needs to recognise some commercial realities.

  • Comment number 34.

    #17 and #32 Alex.

    People once thought of steam trains as fire breathing works of the devil and insisted on cars having someone walk in front of them with a red flag.

    It's called change and is something that even the backward-looking traditionalists at SW19 have to embrace.

  • Comment number 35.

    Im sorry but fairness does notcome in to it when were looking for our first grand slam champion, Murray should be on centre court all the time. The majority of the people are british and want to see their man. There is no way the yanks, french or aussies would move their man off the main court. As for the public not getting there before one whats that all about, if I had a ticket for wimbledon and knew i had to get there by 12 i would organis my travel to get me there for that time, do they think were idiots!! He should apologise for such a poor statment, lets start looking after our star players couse there aint that many. Buck up wimbledon board!

  • Comment number 36.

    With regard to match starting times - I'd say tough! It's tough if you (spectators) can't make it for 11pm. A spectator should make arrangements to leave early or organise accommodation arrangements. Tennis is a non-time limited sport so timing arrangements should be catered for players and the local population not for those who want to travel from extremely long distances.

    With regard to Rafa and the 40-minute delay on his match, I'd say it's justice served for all his illegal timewasting between points. The amount of time he wasted between points in that match must have equated somewhere near the 40-minute mark. If momentum was in his favour, then perhaps he would have finished that match sooner than if he had not wasted all that time (towelling off, sorting out his knickers, sorting out his water bottles, sorting his hair and pulling his socks up continually to his desired length) - at least we don't have to suffer his bum pinching anymore!

  • Comment number 37.

    * I meant 11am.

  • Comment number 38.

    So when will they start to put a roof on Court no. 1?

  • Comment number 39.

    #29 I haven't looked it up (don't know where I could to be honest) but buying tickets for centre court on the 2nd tuesday should not be an expectation of 2 women's quarter finals. Significant rain in the first week could change that and I do recall one year where they scheduled all four women's QFs back to back on court 2. I don't think it's fair to prioritize women's QFs over finishing the men's round of 16.

  • Comment number 40.

    It's simple really. If the weather forecast hints at even a slight possibility of rain and it is a cloudy day then the roof should be put in place. But if it is a blisteringly hot and sunny day, if the skies are blue etc then do not close the roof. Then you can have a day of continual play without worrying about any delays and spectators get value for money and guaranteed entertainment. The tickets cost a bomb so surely the official should see sense in the appropriate usage of the roof!

    I thought the idea of the roof was to eliminate rain delays. Instead it seems to have presented a new problem "roof delay"! It's odd. It wasnt "rain" that destroyed Rafa's Wimby, it was "the roof"! It seems non-sensical that the roof takes over 30 minutes to close - surely the courts would be flooded by then and centre court turned into a fishbowl! (well it would if this British Summer is to go by)!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    I personally believe it is imperative - no - make that ESSENTIAL to have a roof on both Courts 1 and 2 (especially Court 1). Given that Wimbledon is one of the highest calibred sporting events, the first being The World Cup, the second being The Olympics - well Wimbledon is essentially The "Tennis" World Cup. It is also essential for roofs to be in place on at least two other courts, given the unfortunate location and timing of one of the biggest sporting events in the world ever - ENGLAND & BRITISH SUMMERTIME - which equals RAIN! Wimbledon is not in the Sahara Desert! Where you are guaranteed lengthy spells of hot and dry weather. Wimbledon officials must also consider the business value as well the entertainment value the addition of extra roofs would serve, given today's financial climate which is just as unfortunate as Britain weather climate. If the average Briton could afford the cost of a bomb and be promised a guaranteed continual performance of explosive entertainment, the average Briton wouldn't mind emptying or burning a hole in the pockets. The problem is Wimbledon tickets costs a bomb and the average Briton has huge holes in both pockets and if you're sitting in Court 1, after having slogged and slugged for months at work saving up for a ticket and then the heavens declare war on Court 1 - you will not be a satisfied customer and Wimbledon's advertisement for high quality entertainment will be washed down the drain quicker than you can down a pint of londons finest! I would not be happy if I saved up all my hard-earned cash to watch the rain all day!

  • Comment number 42.

    Well said HT-Hotspur;

    "With regard to Rafa and the 40-minute delay on his match, I'd say it's justice served for all his illegal timewasting between points. The amount of time he wasted between points in that match must have equated somewhere near the 40-minute mark. If momentum was in his favour, then perhaps he would have finished that match sooner than if he had not wasted all that time (towelling off, sorting out his knickers, sorting out his water bottles, sorting his hair and pulling his socks up continually to his desired length) - at least we don't have to suffer his bum pinching anymore"

    I couldn't agree more. I'm sick of people going on about "how sporting" he is. He should have been warned about his time wasting during the Rosul match.

    Also, let's ban towels at the court ends. Players never had to "towel off" between every flipping point several years ago. Some are even doing it after the first point or two. And what about the poor ball boys/girls having to handle their hideous, sweat soaked towels? I'd equipe myself with a pair of tongs!

  • Comment number 43.

    @ 42

    Thank you amisanthrope

    I too am totally sick of people going on about Rafa and how gracious he is in defeat and what a wonderful sportsman he is. And his latest episode of "sportsmanship" just makes me sick as well. People say that Rafa picked up Rosol's racquet after Rosol's threw it at the net after he beat Rafa, they use this as means to back up their claim of what a wonderful sportsman he is - oh please! These people are just Rafa fans and deluded people. They are so so quick to forget that it was only 5 minutes before Rafa was trying to barge into and push his was past Rosol at the changeover. Had Rosol not stopped and allowed his "majesty" to pass then poor Rosol could have been sitting down sooner than he expected. I mean everyone (Rafa fans) go on about Roger being arrogant but they need to look no further than their hero - the King of Clay & Arrogance - Mr Nadal. I heard Rafa was moaning that Rosol was moving a bit too much while he was trying to serve hence putting him off, trying to break his rhythm, momentum and generally wasting his time. Erm....cough cough......oh dear oh dear Rafa - you don't like it when its done to you (even though it wasn't) but it's ok for you to waste time between points breaking your opponents rhythm and momentum but don't Rafa we all salute your arrogance!

  • Comment number 44.

    "The Wimbledon surface has got noticeably slower...."

    It didn't look that slow to me when Rafa got blasted off the court by Rosol. The speed of those shots made Sebastian Vettel look slow!

    And Rafa is the King of Slow. Slow between points (illegal timewasting) and King of the Slow Clay Courts. Clay courts are traditionally and historically slower than grass courts. That's why we've seen more "clay-court specialists" doing well on grass in recent years. Rafa who is known for his on-court speed was made to look like a snail against Rosol!

  • Comment number 45.

    Rafa is just a moaner and a sore loser - end of!

  • Comment number 46.

    Lots of excellent points here.

    I agree that n1 court should have a roof but why, oh why were the new 2 and 3 courts not installed with roofs, which would keep the audience both live and on TV happy, plus keep the lower seeds happy that they were getting a fair deal.
    The championships needs to realise we are in the 21st century and keep ahead of the other grand slams.
    As for Nadal, I would not blame him for his time wasting, I would blame the officials for not having the guts to first warn him and then point penalise him for wasting time. Look at the divers in football who get away with it for the same reasons.
    After reaching a reasonably high standard of tennis myself I have witnessed first hand how fit top players are,let alone the top 50. Instead of silly suggestions about doing away with lets on serve or changing the service rules itself, which lets face it if it was that big a problem, why has karlovic not won any grandslams, the ITF should do away with first game breaks at all (currently 20secs) and reduce (as mentioned above) the break time from 90 secs to say 30 secs (enough time for drink) with perhaps a 5 min break at the end of a set?
    Nadal has been timed at over a minute between getting up from the change of ends and serving!

    On the subject of the courts it deeply saddens me that officials are trying to speed up the clay and slow the grass down. If you are good on all surfaces then good luck to you. A longer grass court season would help the clay courters get used to it, with say Queens being a masters, and Eastbourne, Halle and Birmingham DFS classic being the smaller warm up tournaments with Wimbledon being the icing on the cake at the end. Perhaps a 3 week rest period after Wimbledon before the US hard court season would help as well.

    Rant over!

  • Comment number 47.

    I thought there was no official break at the first changeover, but players are never told to get on with it. The only thing the players don't do then is sit down!

    As for Nadal's losing momentum, as I said above, the match wouldn't have finished that day owing to bad light, so if they hadn't have closed the roof, Nadal would have lost his momentum anyway. I was at the match and it was a cracker, although Nadal's slowness was getting rather irritating. I thought Djokovic was bad, but I think he's got a bit quicker. It's no surprise that the longest ever three-set match was between Nadal and Djokovic and on clay.

  • Comment number 48.

    I understand that Wimbledon has had a lot of problems with scheduling due to the rain but I have a complaint with regards the Freeview coverage. The habit of switching channels and moving matches to the red button right in the middle of a match is annoying. It reached the pinnacle of frustration for me when I set my recorder to record the continuation of the delayed Andy Murray 4th round match. I set the recorder to record for 2 hours (it was BBC2 or BBC1 coverage, I forget) and when I got in from work at night to view the recording, within a few minutes the match was swapped to the Red button channel and I missed the rest of it!! Why do these matches keep getting swapped willy-nilly like this? Is it just an attempt to promote the red button or is it the Beeb just playing around with the technology? Personally, I believe that once a match is started on a channel, it should stay on that channel, at least until the scheduled programme ends and only then (if the match runs over) should it be moved to another channel. Remember, some people have to work and so set their recorders!!

    Gae

  • Comment number 49.

    My only issue is the inconsistency that the current use of centre court's roof is producing. I totally understand that the paying public, particularly those who have spent a lot of money on transport and tickets and queued overnight, should have the right to see some tennis rain or shine. But if thats the case then there ought to be more than one court undercover.

    What has been created is a situation where players are getting additional days rest over others simply because they were drawn on centre court. One player gets their game over and done with in 2 hours because centre court is under cover. Another plays over 2 or 3 days and gets half a full day's rest because they were drawn on court 1.

    Particularly when it gets to the business end of the championships I think there should be at least one more court that is undercover to readress this balance.

    Also - I have no idea why murray's game couldnt have carried on on centre when Djokovic's match finished the other day. Would it have been that much of an inconvenience? Ok there would need to be a cut off point but surely every effort should be made to ensure games are completed as efficiently as possible?

  • Comment number 50.

    Spot the error anybody?..

    Djokovic v Federer Grand Slam semi-final meetings
    •2008 Australian Open Djokovic 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7-5)
    •2008 US Open Federer 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-2
    •2009 US Open Federer 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5
    •2010 US Open Djokovic 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5
    •2011 Australian Open Djokovic 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 6-4
    •2011 French Open Djokovic 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5)
    •2011 US Open Djokovic 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5
    •2012 French Open Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-3
    •Total: Djokovic 6 Federer 2

    From the BBC.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/18717245

 

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