Wimbledon turns into an indoor tournament for latecomers: Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic said the start times for evening sessions at the All England Club effectively turned Wimbledon into an indoor tournament for players who had to play late matches on the main competition grounds.

The defending champion beat wildcard Tim van Rijthoven in four sets under the lights of center court on Sunday, setting up a quarter-final against youngster Jannik Sinner in a match that ended around 10:40 p.m. local time (0940 GMT).

“I don’t see why there wouldn’t be an earlier start,” Djokovic told reporters.

“If you’re scheduled last on the Center, you’re going to finish a game under the roof, which changes the conditions, the style of play, the way you move around the court. It’s more slippery. The lights.

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

The start of Djokovic’s match on Sunday was further delayed by a ceremony marking center court’s centenary involving a parade of champions.

“Of course today was a special occasion,” added the six-time Wimbledon champion.

“For me, it was an honor. I was very happy to be part of it. It’s one of those unique moments that you experience as a tennis player, and I will cherish it.

“But I think most players would probably agree that we would all like the start of the match on center court to be pushed earlier.”

While much later finishes are common at the Australian and US Opens, Wimbledon was unable to host matches after dark until the retractable roof and floodlights were installed on the center court for the 2009 championships.

This year, play was scheduled over the 14 days of the tournament, ending the tradition of a day off on the middle Sunday to allow the grass courts to recover.

Djokovic said that while he respected the traditions of the tournament, the changes illustrated that changes could be made to the schedule.

“Since there are changes this year that we never thought we’d see at Wimbledon, why not move it half an hour, an hour earlier?” he said. “I think it would be very useful to complete matches without using the roof.”


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