Murray had manoeuvred himself into a position of dominance against Marin Cilic by taking the first set and was one point away from taking a 4-1 lead in the second when play was suspended for rain. Although it was only 4.52pm no further action was possible, with the decision to abandon play on all courts except the covered Centre Court relayed via the public address system at 7.50pm. Murray’s match against Cilic is scheduled to resume tomorrow.
Wimbledon officials had sought to defend their decision to schedule Murray’s match against Cilic for Court No 1 by stressing that “most players [have to] play there” at some point, with yesterday’s round of 16 matches in both the ladies and men’s singles competitions meaning it is supposed to be Wimbledon’s busiest day.
However, rather than manic Monday, it was dubbed miserable Monday by spectators, particularly those who had tickets for No 1 Court and who had originally been thrilled to learn that Murray was due to play there. They did, however, witness the shock of the day, when No 1 seed Maria Sharapova was beaten in straight sets by Sabine Lisicki.
As the grey sky thickened above, there was only 69 minutes’ worth of action between Murray and Cilic before umpire Carlos Bernardes led the players off. It had not begun at all well for the Scot, who had his serve broken in the opening game of the tie by his 6ft 6in opponent. However, he managed to recover from this nervous start to win the first set 7-5 and was well on the way to taking the second set when the rain began to fall again.
Play is scheduled to begin on the outside courts at 11.30am tomorrow, with Murray’s incomplete match against Cilic the first to be played on No 1 Court at noon. Frustratingly for the Scot, the weather forecast is poor again tomorrow, prompting many to again wonder why the All England Club had not switched the match to Centre Court.
There was even talk of finishing it off there last night after Novak Djokovic’s swift straight-sets victory over Viktor Troicki. However, this match proved to be the last action of the day. Djokovic stated later that he had expected a suspended match to be switched to Centre Court after his own victory had been confirmed just before 8pm tonight. However, he was told that Wimbledon officials “had to consider the crowd, the TV and tickets”. Murray was seen leaving the grounds shortly after the announcement that there would be no further play.
Murray played all three opening rounds on Centre Court last week and had been expected to be scheduled to appear there again today before the order of play schedule was published on Saturday, shortly after the drama of his late-night victory over Marcos Baghdatis. On that occasion, Wimbledon officials were credited with showing good sense, as they allowed the Scot to complete his victory despite play having run over the stated 11pm curfew.
Murray had hoped that by finishing his match with Baghdatis on Saturday night he had avoided being asked to play on three consecutive days at the start of this week. However, if he manages to finish off the task of defeating Cilic tomorrow afternoon, then he will be back in quarter-final action the following day. The match between David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Porto, the winner of which meets either Murray or Cilic in the last eight, is scheduled to be first on Centre Court tomorrow, meaning it is guaranteed to be finished in good time. In total, 18 matches were cancelled today and five men’s last fourth round clashes were suspended.
“Why in the world was Murray not on Centre Court?” asked three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe earlier tonight. “Why shouldn’t it be in his favour?”
“I was happy I was on Centre Court because of the weather conditions,” said Djokovic. “I cannot say whether it was right or wrong they didn’t put him [Murray] there. They know what they are doing I guess.”
As Murray was waiting in the locker room, both his main rivals for the title were easing through to the quarter-finals. The scheduling had helped Roger Federer, who was first on Centre Court against Xavier Malisse today. Despite receiving treatment for a back injury, the No 3 won 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Djokovic made swift work of Troicki, winning 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
“Obviously it is good for me to finish, and have a day of practice tomorrow for the challenges ahead,” said the No 1 seed.
Murray, by contrast, was left to sit and stew earlier this evening. Cilic is the one best served by the interruption, since he had shown evidence of heavy-leggedness after his epic 17-15 final set victory over Sam Querrey on Saturday evening.