ANDY Murray and Novak Djokovic have been handed an advantage after rain disrupted Saturday’s schedule and left the Wimbledon organisers with a backlog of matches as they head into the second week.
While world No 1 Rafa Nadal and seven-times champion Roger Federer both came through their third-round matches – Nadal once again struggling early on – as the rain pounded the Centre Court roof, others had their matches postponed as the inclement weather decimated the order of play. That has prompted the decision to delay all the last 16 matches in that half of the draw until tomorrow.
If that scheduling is a disappointment to the former champions, it is a possible death knell to Stan Wawrinka’s hopes of his first Wimbledon title. This year’s Australian Open champion, who is ranked No 3 in the world but seeded fifth at Wimbledon, will hope to progress past Denis Istomin out on Court No 2 today, while Feliciano Lopez and John Isner get their head to head underway on Court No 3 and Simone Bolelli, of Italy and Japan’s Kei Nishikori have to complete the fifth set of their match, which at least got started on Saturday but then fell foul of the fading light.
It means that, having had two days’ rest since competing on Friday, Murray and Djokovic, last year’s finalists, will play their fourth-round ties today and have another rest day before they would have to pitch up for the Wednesday quarter-finals.
Some of their main rivals for the men’s singles crown will have to play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with the possibility of three energy-sapping five setters undermining their hopes of glory on Sunday. Only on Friday, Murray, who has come through the first week unscathed without dropping a set, said that, while nothing is won in the early stages of the major events, a series of long matches back to back could lose players a slam, a fact his rivals will be only too aware of. “If I will be playing on Tuesday and the winner [of that match] will be playing again on Wednesday, that’s not good,” said Nadal. “That’s not a positive thing. But it cannot be perfect.”
Others will have it even tougher, according to Wawrinka’s countryman, Federer, who could meet his fellow Swiss or Istomin, Lopez or Isner if he makes it through to Wednesday’s quarter-finals. “I guess Stan’s section and Isner’s section will have to play three straight days now,” he said. “There could be 15 sets right there, long sets. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a bit of the unknown. I mean, these guys are all fit enough to handle it, but it can have an impact, no doubt.
“We’ll see what’s going to happen. But you can’t choose, always. It is what it is and you have to adapt to it.”