Since writing this article on Wimbledon’s scheduling being unfair to former champions Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, a lot has happened to prove my point. Firstly, Rafael Nadal lost a thrilling match to Gilles Muller 15-13 in the final set, a match which he was always more likely to lose on Court 1 than Centre due to the court speed. The Spaniard further added after the match that, “I like playing more on Centre Court,” and “it’s almost always the same players,” referring to those who play on the main court, obviously talking about Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Given the matchup and the opponent of Andy Murray yesterday, many such as myself did think Rafael Nadal should have been on Centre instead.
To further prove my point, what happened with No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic was even worse. Nadal leveled his match against Muller to force a fifth set at around 6.20pm. Given the nature of the previous sets, the match was probably looking to finish at around 7pm. By time Djokovic would have come on court and begun it would have been around 7.20pm, giving the Serbian and his opponent approximately 1h40 to finish their encounter before it would have to be postponed. What’s worse is even when we got to 6-6 in the final set, no decision was made while Federer had already finished off the schedule of play on Centre. This would have given Djokovic and Mannarino plenty of time to finish, given Centre having a roof. Djokovic himself said he went to the referee’s office yesterday and that “it was the wrong decision not to play last night as we could have played given Centre Court has a roof and lights… we could have played until 11pm,” justifying my views. Whilst also adding that there was “no logic to not playing us on Centre Court,” clearly disagreeing with Wimbledon’s lame “excuse”.
Wimbledon released a statement saying “As late as 8.30pm, 30,000 people still remained in the Grounds, and therefore moving the match would have created a significant safety issue,” and “the preference was to play the Djokovic v Mannarino match as scheduled on No.1 Court”. Yet they more or less contradicted themselves because at the time Nadal vs Muller went into a fifth it was unlikely for Djokovic’s match to even be completed on Court 1 in the first place, so they knew both the Serbian and Frenchman would have had to come back on Tuesday. If they made a proper effort to move the match, such as only allowing certain ticket holders in, this could and would have easily been resolved with Djokovic and Mannarino not suffering due to unfair biased scheduling. Imagine if Murray or Federer were in Djokovic’s situation yesterday; we all know what decision they would have made. Tuesday, a women’s quarterfinal was moved to Centre to finish given the weather. I wonder why that was moved; surely it would have caused some crazy significant safety issue too? A few years ago, Monfils vs Simon was also moved to Centre Court to finish with open seating with no issue whatsoever either.
Anyway, Djokovic got to play and win his Round 4 match on Centre Court today, yay! But guess what? Actually don’t guess since it’s so obvious, he’s on Court 1 once again tomorrow against former finalist and last year’s semifinalist Tomas Berdych (remember my earlier comment on their 2013 quarter-final?). That is the significantly faster of the two main courts, giving the Czech a greater chance of pulling off the upset. Of course the Brit and Swiss are on Centre again; looks like the organisers didn’t hear Nadal’s comments. If Murray or/and Federer do make the final, they’ll have played every match of theirs on Centre–just like last year–while if Djokovic does, he would have been originally scheduled to play only four of his seven matches there. I know a lot of people have disagreed with my points in the last article, but after Nadal’s comments and recent events, can you really still believe the scheduling at Wimbledon isn’t a joke?