Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic’s complaints dismissed by CEO Sally Bolton

Novak Djokovic and Wimbledon CEO Sally Bolton

Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton has dismissed complaints made by Novak Djokovic about the timing of matches on Centre Court.

The world number three called on Wimbledon organisers to revert to an earlier start time on Centre Court to avoid late-night finishes.

Djokovic narrowly avoided the 11pm curfew on Sunday by beating Tim van Rijthoven 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and 37 minutes.

A number of matches have finished late on Centre Court during this year’s Wimbledon, a result of the new 1.30pm start time, lengthy on-court interviews and a 20-minute gap between each match.

“I don’t see a reason why there wouldn’t be an earlier start, particularly now that there are on-court interviews that we didn’t have up to a few years ago,” Djokovic said.

“I think most of the players would agree that we would all want the start of the match on Centre Court pushed earlier.

“Also, the time between matches, you almost certainly, if you’re scheduled last on Centre, you’re going to end up a match under the roof, which changes the conditions, the style of play, the way you move on court.

“It’s really an indoor tournament in most cases when you’re scheduled last on Centre or Court 1.”

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic

Bolton has hit back at Djokovic’s criticism, however, claiming it was not unusual for tennis stars to play late into the night at Grand Slams.

“The reality of running a tennis event is that once you start the day, you have no idea when the day is going to finish,” Bolton explained.

“So matches are long, short – so it’s pretty unpredictable, and when we look at the scheduling, we think as much as we can about what the day is going to look like, but ultimately once the players walk onto court, we don’t have any control over how long matches run for.

“So yes, we have seen some matches go late this year, and we think about that in the scheduling process, but we are certainly not moving to night sessions, and we are not seeking to have players playing late.

“But of course, other Grand Slams, they are playing far later into the evening – it’s not a particularly unusual occurrence for players at Grand Slams.”

Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton

Bolton did concede that organisers would be taking player feedback into account.

“I think it’s understandable that players are providing feedback on the experience that they’re having at the Championships,” she said.

“And, of course, we take account of all of that as we think about the way in which we plan our days. There haven’t been significant changes to the schedule. We will always take account of the feedback we receive and look at what we do.”

Djokovic will play against Jannik Sinner in the Wimbledon quarter-finals this afternoon.

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