In the last five years it’s been a rare sight to have Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer in the second week of Wimbledon. Either way, it’s 2017, and for the first time since Wimbledon 2014 those men are the top four seeds at a Grand Slam. While on paper it looks great to potentially have all four making the semifinals, it’s sad how the scheduling of this event puts two of these great champions completely above the others. If you don’t know, it’s pretty obvious which two I am on about, World #1 Andy Murray and seven-time champion Roger Federer.
To begin, sure there’s no rule about where players play their matches, although you would think with Wimbledon having four of the biggest names in tennis they would at least treat them in such a way in which all are treated somewhat equally. Sadly however, this isn’t the case.
Starting with this year’s championship, #3 seed Rafael Nadal, who’s just coming off a Roland Garros win, began Wimbledon on Court 1 against Australian John Millman while three-time champion Novak Djokovic also played on Court 1 for his Round 2 encounter again Adam Pavlasek. Meanwhile, defending champion Andy Murray and Roger Federer have yet to be off Centre Court. You might be wondering why this is a big deal, and that’s because Court 1 doesn’t have a roof or floodlights–while also plays differently, not suiting the likes of Nadal and Djokovic, making them more vulnerable due to the court being faster.
This here is precisely where the issue continues–for Manic Monday’s schedule both Murray and Federer are on Centre Court again. Sure, in the Swiss’ defense he is playing Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian 13th seed who has shown signs of brilliance this year such as only being a few games away from making his maiden Grand Slam final in Australia. In the Brit’s case, however, he is playing Benoit Paire, a Frenchman who’s worst surface is grass and claims to hate this tournament. Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, is playing 16th seed Gilles Muller who pushed him here for the first two sets here in 2011 (Nadal 7-6(5) 7-6(5) ) while also having beaten the Spaniard on grass before too. So tell me, what’s the match that should be on Centre Court?
Yes, Andy Murray is British, but it gets to an extent where it’s used as too much of an advantage. Achievement wise he is nowhere near the level of Nadal and Djokovic and although fans want to see the Brit on Centre Court, you would have to think a much larger international audience would prefer to see the Spaniard or Serbian there instead. This is one of the biggest sporting events in the world; the sooner Wimbledon stop being idiots and realise that it’s not only Brits watching, the better.
As for Roger Federer, sure he’s won seven titles here, but the last came in 2012. Since then Novak Djokovic has won two titles here, but somehow Wimbledon seem to totally forget that. Even in 2015, when the 12-time Grand Slam champion was the top seed and defending champion they threw him out on Court 1 vs Kevin Anderson for his Round 4 match. Meanwhile, Roger Federer got Centre Court vs Roberto Bautista Agut–that alone says enough. Or how about last year when the Serb was thrown on Court 1 against a dangerous opponent, Sam Querrey, which ended up getting delayed due to rain and Djokovic ultimately losing. Who knows how different the result could have been on Centre Court? Maybe he still would have lost, but one thing for sure is that his gamestyle against someone like Querrey would have benefitted playing on Centre. But of course Federer and Murray got Centre Court for all of their matches even when they played the likes of grass court legends such as Guido Pella and Dan Evans.
Unfortunately, the same applies for last year’s Roland Garros champion. Even in 2010 when his quarterfinal was a rematch of the Roland Garros final just a few weeks before, he was thrown onto Court 1 while Andy Murray and Roger Federer got Centre. The same is true for 2011, where he played fellow top 10 seed Mardy Fish on Court 1 while Andy Murray and Roger Federer got Centre once again, in Murray’s case against an unseeded player too.
No doubt Andy Murray and Roger Federer are great players ,but then so are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The sooner they’re treated fairer at Wimbledon the better. This has gone on far too long and assuming all four win on Monday, unless Nadal and Djokovic get Centre for their quarterfinals, at least one of them would have played on Court 1 three times while Federer and/or Murray will have once again played every match of theirs on Centre.
Combined, the Brit and Swiss have only ever played one quarterfinal off Centre Court, so it’s a long shot thinking that Djokovic and Nadal will get Centre if they win on Monday. I mean, just look at 2013–somehow Murray vs the unseeded Verdasco and Del Potro vs Ferrer got Centre over Djokovic playing former finalist Berdych. How does that even make any sense? Honestly, it’s ridiculous how two players with five Wimbledon titles and 27 Grand Slams combined can be so disrespected at any tournament, let alone at the biggest one in our sport.