Wawrinka, Federer voice concerns about Wimbledon schedule changes
LONDON -- Wimbledon organizers have come under fire for a series of scheduling decisions that have left the players scratching their heads. On Saturday No. 3 Stan Wawrinka had his third-round match canceled when rain threatened to wash out play, but as Wawrinka packed up his bags for the day, he noticed that a number of other bottom bracket matches were able to finish, and a few of the courts were occupied by junior and doubles matches.
"I was surprised they didn't move like doubles match, because they played doubles five‑set match on Saturday on many courts," Wawrinka said. "So that was a surprise. But then they took a decision, and you cannot do anything."
While most of the other men playing on Monday were trying to book a spot in the quarterfinals, Wawrinka was a round behind. He defeated Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round. He'll face Feliciano Lopez on Tuesday, who's third-round match against John Isner was also canceled on Saturday.
The decision to cancel their matches impacts the entire bottom half of the men's draw, which includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Wawrinka, Lopez and Kei Nishikori, whose third-round match was suspended for light and resumed on Monday, will not get a day of rest between their third- and fourth-round matches. Should they win, they will have to play again for the third-straight day on Wednesday. That's a significant physical disadvantage at the Grand Slams, where the men play a best-of-five format.
"I mean, these guys are all fit enough to handle it, but it can have an impact, no doubt," Federer said.
Player complaints about the scheduling decision fell on deaf ears.
"[Wimbledon schedulers] just say what's going to be the schedule and that's it," Wawrinka said. "Even if you want to talk to them, they're not going to change anything. They don't listen to the player. They just do what they think is good for them."
The players who already booked their spot in the fourth round and had both Sunday and Monday off, including Nadal and Federer; if they win, they'll play back-to-back matches on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is a stark contrast to the top half of the draw -- featuring Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- who will get a traditional day off between matches.
The women's draw has also been affected by rain delays. The only player in the top half of the draw that was able to book her spot in the quarterfinals was Eugenie Bouchard, who beat Alize Cornet in straight sets in the afternoon. Late on Monday, Maria Sharapova's fourth-round match against Angelique Kerber was canceled and will be played on Tuesday. Simona Halep, the highest seed remaining in the draw, and Sabine Lisicki, last year's finalist, will play their respective fourth-round matches on Tuesday. As a result, Bouchard will get an extra day off on Tuesday, while the other three women in the quarterfinals will have to play three straight days to make Saturday's final.
In addition to match scheduling issues, players have voiced their displeasure of being made to play into darkness. No. 6 Tomas Berdych lost to Marin Cilic as the clock struck 9:38 p.m. last week, and he couldn't understand how they could be made to play when the light so bad that the Hawk-Eye system ceased to work.
"If I start the match on court where we don't have Hawk‑Eye, it's how it is since the beginning," Berdych said. "But if somebody told me that some machine doesn't work just because of the light, that we don't have enough, so why we have to play?"
Madison Keys played through injury until 9:37 p.m. when her third-round match against Yaroslava Shvedova was finally called for darkness on Saturday. She said even the line umpires admitted to having trouble seeing the ball.
"If Hawk-Eye can't see the ball, then maybe our human eyes can't see the ball great either," she said after withdrawing from the tournament with injury on Monday. "But then again, it's up to the supervisors. If they think we can play, then we play."
For the veterans who have been deep at Wimbledon multiple times, they advise their colleagues to just roll with the punches.
"[The scheduling and weather has] worked against me many times and many other players," said Andy Murray. "You just have to deal with it. Someone told me the other day that Navratilova once played 17 matches in the second week, so I think we shouldn't really worry about it. You're going into possibly playing three days in a row best-of-five-set matches, but at least you have had a two-day break and will be fresh for that. You know, if you can get through that period, you're going to be feeling pretty sharp and pretty good, so you just have to get on with it."
Seven-time champion Federer agreed.
"Yeah, you can't choose always," he said. "It is what it is and you have to adapt to it."