Wimbledon Scheduling – An Unfair, Biased Decision to Benefit Roger Federer

Centre Court Wimbledon

The Wimbledon organizers have never been the saints of scheduling. In the last few years alone we’ve seen several questionable and disrespectful decisions, all the way from Novak Djokovic on Court 2 just a few years ago to Venus Williams on Court 18–that’s right, a five-time champion on Court 18.

But this year the organizers have seemingly done the impossible and one-upped themselves. By now, you probably already know what I mean. Coco Gauff is of course a very skilled and talented teenager, but did she really justify Centre Court three times in her first four matches with two being against players outside the Top 100? What about wild card Andy Murray also getting Centre Court for all three matches, including against a qualifier ranked outside the Top 150? What about two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic being put on Court 1 or Venus Williams starting her campaign on Court 2. Maybe the Murray decision makes sense with the crowd’s love of him. But how do you justify the Gauff or Venus Williams decisions?

Roger Federer’s Treatment

But let’s look at the worst decision of them all: how sixth seed Roger Federer and second seed Daniil Medvedev have been treated. Don’t get me wrong, Federer is obviously the biggest superstar in the sport. That doesn’t change the fact that surrounding him are fellow men who also deserve a chance to play on the most prestigious court in the world. From rounds one to three, Federer’s half has included the likes of second seed Daniil Medvedev, fourth seed Alexander Zverev, and seventh seed Matteo Berrettini–who’s just come off a great win at Queens a few weeks ago.

Thinking logically, over the course of those three rounds and even the fourth round (where both halves play on the same day) you would think most of these players would have had the chance to play at least one on Centre Court, but astonishingly none have. In fact, Berrettini will play Felix Auger-Aliassime in a quarterfinal which is almost certain to be scheduled on Court 1. That would mean the winner would enter the semifinals without a single match on Centre Court. If they do face Federer, it would be with him having all five of his matches on that court. You might be thinking, well, why does this matter? But Centre Court has always played very differently than the other courts in terms of speed and bounce, so being adjusted to it is obviously a big advantage.

Also, which courts players receive is not just a matter of prestige, or even adjusting to the court. Players also know the decisions matter to the organizers. If Federer’s semifinal opponent spent every match on Court 1 or an outside court while Federer plays on Centre, that tells them something. They see that the tournament itself values Federer more than it values them. How can a tournament call itself fair if the players view the organizers as biased?

World #2 Daniil Medvedev

Now let’s move onto Daniil Medvedev who could be be the Swiss’ quarterfinal opponent. He’s the World #2 and could possibly even end this event as the world’s best player. You can even argue he’s had by far the hardest draw of all the top players with the most interesting matches. He started off against German Jan-Lennard Struff, who’s been in amazing form, beating several top 10 players the past few months, a match easily justifiable on Centre Court. Then Medvedev played 2017 finalist and recent title winner Marin Cilic in the third round, another match which would fit the Centre Court billing. He is now taking on 2021 Miami Masters champion Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round, a man who hadn’t lost a serve before the encounter.

Here’s the thing, how on earth have all four of his matches considering his ranking, pedigree, and opponents all been scheduled off Centre Court? That’s not even the worst part. though. His Round 4 match against Hurkacz wasn’t even on Court 1, but Court 2 and it just happened to be last on court. So when the rain came down Monday night, both men were forced to stop mid way through the fourth set. Meanwhile Roger Federer was close to finishing his match against Sonego off with the roof closed on Centre Court.

Manic Monday Decision

When the 20-time Grand Slam champion finished off the Italian on Centre Court, there was still three hours left before the 11 PM curfew. Anyone with a brain would think you surely just move Medvedev and Hurkacz to Centre to finish the match. Even if the match went to 12-12 in the 5th it would have been finished before the curfew. The roof was already shut, so it wasn’t like any extra effort was needed in setting up the court. In fact, years ago they moved Monfils vs Simon to Centre after it was the only match which hadn’t been completed. Why was that match moved and not this? Instead, the organizers opted to postpone the remainder of the match until the next day. In my eyes, this is quite honestly disgusting. Now the winner will have to play three days in a row. Under certain circumstances, this can be justified. But not in these.

The only person who benefits from this is Roger Federer, who will play the winner on Wednesday. It wouldn’t even shock me if that’s exactly why the decision was made to postpone the match rather than move it. As we’ve seen from the past ten or so years, there’s only two men Wimbledon go out of their way to cater for–Roger Federer and Andy Murray. So whenever seemingly-biased “incidents” occur with scheduling, you can be sure either one of those two is involved. Just let it sink in that even Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been hard done with scheduling in the past just because of these two, and that should say enough.

Grand Slam roofs are already inherently unfair. They let the top (or most famous) players have consistent scheduling when others risk the elements. But when you add decisions like this, it hurts other top players in late rounds also. Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz deserve better. So do fans who want to see a fair sport.

Main Photo from Getty.

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