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Only Wimbledon could treat home hope like this in name of fairness


When Andy Murray draws up his Christmas card list, the members of Wimbledon's order of play sub- committee are unlikely to be on it. The scheduling of Murray's fourth-round match against Marin Cilic on Court One seemed an odd decision from the moment it was announced on Saturday evening. When play was called off because of rain with Murray leading 7-5, 3-1, it must have left the world No 4's supporters wondering whether the All England Club really has the best interests of Britain's finest player at heart.

As Murray waited for the weather to relent, his two main rivals went through to the quarters after winning on Centre Court. Roger Federer, who played the opening match, was no doubt feeling grateful for the chance of a day's rest today after suffering a back injury in beating Xavier Malisse, while Novak Djokovic progressed by beating Viktor Troicki under the retractable roof.

Murray and Cilic, meanwhile, have to return to Court One at noon today, knowing that whoever makes the quarter-finals will have to play three days in a row. If they felt a sense of injustice, it might have been heightened by the order of play for today, when more bad weather is forecast. In the quarter-finals, Murray or Cilic will play David Ferrer or Juan Martin Del Potro, who were scheduled last on Court One yesterday but will now open today's programme on Centre Court.

The All England Club decided not to move Murray to Centre Court either today or last night, when the final match under the roof ended before 8pm – another three hours of play would have been possible.

Yesterday's weather was always expected to deteriorate, yet Murray and Cilic were not even scheduled as the first match. There was already drizzle when play started at 3.43pm; by 4.52pm it was heavy enough to send the players off. Play was finally abandoned near 8pm.

The order of play is often a bone of contention and tournament officials need thick skins. It is rarely possible to please everybody and it was easy to see the reasoning behind yesterday's scheduling, which was designed to be fair to the two halves of the men's draw.

A spokesman for the All England Club said last night: "The problems associated with moving matches between courts, such as the stewarding and the wish not to play another late night, all conspired to say our best option is to come back tomorrow.

"It is a traditional daytime, outdoor event. We have had four late nights already. We could go on to five or six. We have to draw the line somewhere and this is it."

We have had four late nights already. We could go on to five or six. We have to draw the line somewhere