“I just don’t get it,” stated ESPN’s Brad Gilbert on air in observing that play had been halted on 80% of the courts at Wimbledon. Somehow, Wimbledon officials allowed rain-impacted play on three courts while suspending play on 12 others. Within 30 minutes, officials suspended play on courts 15 and 16. At that point, players were playing outdoors on only one court.
With fans wearing hoods and even holding umbrellas, American Sebastian Korda outlasted #10 seed Alex De Minaur in four sets. Korda advanced to the second round in his first Wimbledon. While the conditions were the same for both players, it is unfortunate Wimbledon officials showed such inconsistency in allowing play on selected courts and not others. Korda eventually held off De Minaur in a fourth-set tiebreaker to take the match 6-3 6-4 6-7 7-6.
Some might argue that when the rain came, Korda and De Minaur were at a pivotal point in the match, and therefore they continued. However, when play was suspended on other courts, Korda and De Minaur were still games from their fourth-set tiebreaker.
At that time, Philip Kohlschreiber led Denis Shapovalov 6-5 in the fourth set of their match and play was suspended. Likewise, Ricardas Berankis and Lloyd Harris, who were at 6-6 in the third set, stopped playing.
When the Korda vs De Minaur match ended, the net on their court immediately came down. At that point, play temporarily ended on all outdoor courts. Just minutes after, ESPN’s Chris Fowler observed during the broadcast that “I cannot believe Sebastian Korda got that job done in just the nick of time.”
This was a nick of time afforded to the leading Korda that was not afforded to any of the other leading players on the outdoor courts. With time to regroup and steady himself, one wonders if higher-ranked De Minaur may have rallied and swung the match in his favor. Not that Korda did anything wrong. He deserved to win the match that was played. The problem is the inconsistent standards which make the competition different for different players.
Officials Should Take Control
Rain affects Wimbledon almost every year. With players prone to slipping on grass, even without rain, the courts can be dangerous. If officials decide play should stop on one court, it should stop on all outdoor courts. This should hold even if both competitors want to continue playing. With roofs on 2 courts, television fans can still see tennis, and matches can continue.
Wimbledon is one of the great sporting events of the year. Rules and management of play should meet this exceptional standard.
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