‘It’s Wimbledon, it rains’: fatalism rather than frustration takes hold for players | Wimbledon 2023

Wimbledon’s chaotic opening week continued on Wednesday with more rain and challenges over scheduling adding pressure on organisers to clear a looming backlog. With Just Stop Oil protesters adding to the disruption, the All England Club’s attempt to play an ambitious total of 87 singles matches soon fell by the wayside.

The competition has a significant number of first-round matches still to play while the top seeds, able to continue under the covers of the main show courts, have already progressed to round three.

After eight fixtures were completed on a rain-sodden Tuesday, the start of play on Wednesday was again affected by showers. Competition on the outside courts, which usually begins at 11am, was delayed first until 11.30, then 11.45 and finally 12.30. But nce it started, play soon stopped with another rain interruption30 minutes later.

The problems on the outdoor courts were compounded by No 1 Court, which has a roof but delayed its start time from 1pm to 1.15 so as not to have to use it. The All England Club prioritises playing as many matches outdoors as possible but drew frustrations of ticket holders with their postponement, a decision that only looked worse when another unexpected shower arrived at 2pm. It was not until 3pm that the day’s first match was completed.

For the players, there was more fatalism than frustration. Daniil Medvedev was one of the first to complete his match, beating the Briton Arthur Fery in three sets on No 1 Court. “I’m happy to finish my match because that’s not the case for everyone,” the No 3 seed said.

“That’s sometimes how Wimbledon can be. We know it can rain. Hard courts you cannot also kind of play in the rain. But the grass is even worse. As soon as it’s a few drops, you are scared.”

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Medvedev’s match had been delayed from Tuesday and the Russian said: “Sometimes when you don’t hit for the day it can be tricky. I didn’t feel amazing in my tennis, but a win is a win,.”

While much of the bottom half of the draw in the men’s and women’s singles remained incomplete, there were some brackets in the top half where players were completing their second-round fixtures at the same time as others were playing their first.

The American Sloane Stephens was one who found herself at the wrong end of such a situation, but seemed determined to shrug off any disappointment. “It’s always tough when you’re a Monday match which gets moved first to Tuesday then Wednesday,” she said. “It’s a lot of drama, a lot of adversity, and it’s the person who focuses the best is the one who comes out on top.

“Everyone’s dynamic is a little bit different but we are all still pretty much in the same boat of suffering. It might be helpful if you’re playing and your next opponent hasn’t but they’ve done a good job of trying to keep the brackets together. At the end of the day it’s Wimbledon, it rains.”

While some unfinished fixtures have been added to the evening’s schedule on Centre Court and No 1 Court, Wimbledon does not have plans to start new matches late, in an attempt to preserve the grass for later in the tournament.

“The scheduling of the order of play each day at the Championships is a complex operation,” a spokesperson for the All England Club said. “We take great care when scheduling matches and allocating courts. All decisions are made with fairness and the best interests of the tournament, players, spectators and our worldwide broadcast audience at heart.”

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