Wimbledon Stands By Center Court Start Time Despite Calls For Change - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Stands By Center Court Start Time Despite Calls For Change

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Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Cameron Norrie (GBR) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

The All England Tennis Club has confirmed they will not be starting matches earlier on Center Court at Wimbledon despite concerns raised by some players at last year’s tournament.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were among those who called for matches to start earlier on the premier venue at Wimbledon to prevent the possibility of matches lasting two days. Djokovic’s fourth-round match and Murray’s second-round encounter were both affected in the 2023 tournament. Due to the Grand Slam having an 11pm curfew as part of their agreement with local authorities, any match running after that time must be finished the following day when conditions might be different to what they played the first part of their match in.

“Obviously the curfew is probably something that is much more difficult to change because of the community and the residential area we are in,” Djokovic previously told reporters.
“I think the matches could be pushed to at least start at 12:00. I think it would make a difference.”

However, Wimbledon has chosen to stick to their usual 13:30 start time which could be due to the decision to provide more prime time airtime to the BBC. Usually, three matches are held on Center Court during the championships but if one of those were to be a lengthy encounter, it increases the chances of the final match going into the second day. Something that some argue will be better for players rather than making them play into the early hours like at other major events. 

 “We are very comfortable with the start times that we have. We’re very comfortable with the fact we have one session instead of two and we’re very comfortable with the fact that we won’t have the situation whereby we finish early in the morning because we have an 11pm cut-off.” The Times quoted The All England Club chairwoman, Debbie Jevans, as saying on Thursday. 

Sally Bolton, who is the Chief Executive of The All England Club, confirmed their decision was made following their annual tournament review. Even though some studies have established evidence that the average length of men’s Grand Slam matches has increased in recent years. The Athletic found the average duration increased by 23.4% between 1999 and 2023 from 2hr 21min to 2hr 54 min.

“We’re very happy with what we concluded,” said Bolton. “We’ve reviewed it, we’ve thought long and hard, looked at the data around the length of matches and the trends that are occurring in that space. We’re very confident and happy with the decision we have made.”

This year’s Grand Slam will have a record prize money pool of £50 million with the singles champions each taking home £2.7M. There have been increases in every round of the tournament but the biggest year-on-year rises are for the quarter-final stages or later. 

Key dates for Wimbledon 2024

  • Wednesday 19 June: Initial wild cards announced 
  • Monday 24 – Thursday 27 June: Qualifying Competition
  • Friday 28 June: The Official Draw will be at 10am
  • Saturday 29 – Sunday 30 June: Player’s post-tournament press conferences 
  • Monday 1 – Sunday 14 July: The Championships 2024 

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship

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Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.


Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire

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Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

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Novak Djokovic Claims 375th Major Win To Reach Wimbledon Final

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Image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic is a win away from a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title after beating a spirited Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3, in the semi-finals on Friday. 

The second seed was challenged by his 22-year-old but had all the answers to the questions that were asked of him. Djokovic dropped serve twice in his latest match but managed to come out on top with the help of 34 winners. He is through to his 10th Wimbledon final which is the second-highest tally in history among male players after Roger Federer (12).

I have said it many times Wimbledon has been a childhood dream for me to play it and to win it. It is worth repeating I was a seven-year-old boy watching the bombs fly over my head and dreaming of being on the most important court in the world which is here in Wimbledon.” Djokovic said afterwards.
“I was constructing Wimbledon trophies out of any material in the room!
“I have the tremendous support from my family and my wife has been with me for many years and my children too – it has been an incredible journey.
“I try not to take it for granted every time I find myself on this unique court. Obviously during the match it is business time and trying to do your work and I try out play my opponent.
“I am satisfied and pleased, but I don’t want to stop here – hopefully I get my hands on the trophy.”

The seven-time champion first drew blood six games into the match. A roller-coaster rally between the duo ended with Musetti hitting an unforced error that granted Djokovic a break for 4-2. Immediately afterwards he tried to generate more support from the crowd which triggered mostly cheers, as well as some booing due to what he said earlier in the tournament. Meanwhile, on the court, Djokovic looked to be in control when leading 5-3, 40-15, before Musetti unexpectedly broke back. Despite the blip, he sealed the 6-4 lead in the following game.

Djokovic continued to be sternly tested by Musetti, who produced moments of brilliance with his shot-making to rightfully earn the 3-1 lead in the second frame. But once again, he managed to fight back against the Italian by claiming three games in a row. With little to separate both players, proceedings headed into a tiebreaker after Musetti fought off a set point.

It was largely one-way traffic in the tiebreaker as Djokovic surged to a two-set lead by hitting a smash. However, the best point was undoubtedly produced by his rival who hit a stunning around-the-post winner that clocked in at 103 mph.  

Closing in on a record 375th win in a Grand Slam tournament, the 24-time Grand Slam champion broke once in the third set before sealing after a shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline.

“There was plenty of doubt. I came into London eight days before the tournament stared. I didn’t know [if I would play] and I was keeping everything open until the day of the draw,” said Djokovic who had knee surgery last month.
I have played a couple of practice sets with top plays and that proved to me I was in a good enough state to not just be in Wimbledon, but to go deep into the tournament. 
“That kind of mentality is there and is ever present. Thank you to the team members for helping me.”

The Serbian has broken another Open Era record to reach the title match at SW19. He is the first player to reach this stage on three separate occasions after turning 35. He will next take on Carlos Alcaraz in what will be a rematch of last year’s title match. Alcaraz came back from a set down to beat Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day. 

“Last year it was a really difficult match. He put me in real trouble,” Alcaraz said of his 2023 final clash with Djokovic.
“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. I’ve played a few times in Grand Slams, the final of Master 1000, multiple times against him. 
“I know what I have to do. I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me. It’s going to be a really interesting one”

Djokovic leads Alcaraz 3-2 on their head-to-head but only one of his wins have been in straight sets.

“He’s a great example of someone as a young player who has a well balanced life. A good family… a lot of charisma… carries himself well on and off the court.” He said of his next opponent.
“He’s deservedly one of the greatest 21 year olds we’ve ever seen in this sport. We’re gonna see a lot of him in the future no doubt. He’s gonna win many more grand slams. Hopefully in 2 days, not this one.”

Should Djokovic win the title on Sunday he would become the oldest player to ever do so at the age of 37.

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