Rain backlog forces rethink on Sunday play

Play on the middle Sunday is possible for only the third time in the history of the Championships as rain delays create a backlog of matches. Yesterday's washout left the organisers 45 matches behind schedule after the first three days. Rain permitting, play will start an hour early today and tomorrow - noon on Centre Court and Court No 1, 11am on the outside courts.

Play on the middle Sunday is possible for only the third time in the history of the Championships as rain delays create a backlog of matches. Yesterday's washout left the organisers 45 matches behind schedule after the first three days. Rain permitting, play will start an hour early today and tomorrow - noon on Centre Court and Court No 1, 11am on the outside courts.

In an attempt to ease congestion, the men's doubles matches have been reduced from five sets to three sets until the quarter-finals at least.

Alan Mills, the referee, will only recommend play next Sunday if he considers there is no option. The All England Club, unlike the three other Grand Slam championships in Melbourne, Paris, and New York, make the middle Sunday a rest day, as much to give the local residents a day's respite from the crowds and traffic as to give their tournament staff a break.

It was Mills who urged the management committee to break with tradition and play on the middle Sunday for the first time in 1991, when only 123 matches were completed by the first Friday. In an uninterrupted week, approximately 365 matches would be completed.

Mills was also instrumental in pressing for Sunday play in 1997, when only 94 matches were completed by the first Friday.

Frustrated spectators wandered round the damp, wind-swept grounds yesterday, hoping that the showers would ease long enough for play to start. At 6.46 pm, Chris Gorringe, the All England Club's chief excective, announced that play was abandoned. Spectators will be able to claim a full refund on their tickets. That is the case if there is less than one hour's play in a day. If there is more than one hour's play but less than two hours, half the cost of the ticket is refunded. Today's forecast is wind and showers.

Yesterday marked the 31st time that a full day's play had been lost since the Championships began in 1877.

It was of no consolation for those who came yesterday, hoping to see some of the world's finest players on Centre Court to know that a retractable roof is planned for the court.

Construction is expected to begin in 2006, and the translucent roof - a "folding fabric concertina", should be ready for the 2009 championships. The roof will at least guarentee play for Centre Court spectators and a world-wide television audience, safeguarding the tournament's commericial viability.

The competitors waiting to play yesterday were as frustrated as the crowd waiting to watch them, none more than Guillermo Coria, of Argentina, the man who defeated Britain's Tim Henman in the French Open semi-finals.

When his match was halted on Tuesday, Coria was serving to Wesley Moodie, of South Africa at 5-3, 30-30, in the fifth set - only two points from his first win in the main drawn Wimbledon.

Henman's second-round match against the unseeded Swiss player Ivo Heuberger, who is ranked at 137, is now scheduled to start tomorrow.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea