Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s chances of winning the Wimbledon title have been affected by a controversial changing of the schedule by the All England Club.
A rain delay on Saturday caused the cancellation of matches between fifth-seeded Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, as well as the match between 19th and ninth seeds Feliciano Lopez of Spain and America’s John Isner respectively.
This has caused tournament officials to move the matches in the bottom half of the men’s draw to Tuesday, which goes against the tradition of playing all fourth round matches on the second Monday of the tournament, after the rest day on middle Sunday.
The result of this will leave some players playing matches on consecutive days, with all of the men’s quarter-final matches being scheduled for Wednesday.
This leaves the players in the top half of the draw, which includes Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Andy Murray, with two days extra rest should they progress, having played their third round matches on Friday.
Federer & Nadal
Both seven-time former champion Federer and world number one Nadal were able to complete their matches without fuss on Saturday, as the closed roof on Centre Court allowed first for Nadal to defeat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in four sets, and later Federer breezed past Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in three sets.
An improvement in the weather caused confusion, as Wawrinka and Isner both had their matches cancelled at 5.12 pm, but the resumption in play allowed all but one other third round match to be completed, with Simone Bolelli of Italy and 10th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan still to finish the deciding set of their match on Monday.
It was Niskikori who won it.
All four players that are to contest the two cancelled matches have now been put at a severe disadvantage, as they may have to play three matches in as many days. Federer accepts that it is a part of the sport, and understands the predicament that the tournament organisers have been left in.
The 32-year-old said before the decision was made on Saturday: “We’ll see what’s going to happen. I might not play on Monday now. I don’t know what the situation is. You can’t choose, always. It is what it is and you have to adapt to it.”
The Swiss went on to say that the playing schedule will have an impact on the players who had their matches cancelled, but that they should be fit enough to handle it.
“I guess Stan’s section and Isner’s section, they have to play three straight days now. There could be 15 sets right there, long sets. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It’s a bit of the unknown. I mean, these guys are all fit enough to handle it, but it can have an impact, no doubt.”
Nadal, who is aiming to win the title for the third time this year, admitted that it is not a good situation to be in.
The Spaniard said: “The tradition is here nobody plays on Sunday. If I will be playing on Tuesday and the winner will be playing again on Wednesday, that’s not good.
“That’s not a positive thing. But it cannot be perfect.”
It is not yet clear how Tuesday’s matches will be scheduled, but Nadal and Federer will have to play three matches in four days if they both make the semi-finals.
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