Safety first as Murray gets showpiece Wimbledon return

Wimbledon normally schedules three singles matches per day on the main show courts, and Murray, who has teamed up with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, will have to slot in afterwards whenever the singles are finished.

Murray will be almost certainly be put on either Centre Court or Court One to start with on his return.   -  REUTERS

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon comeback in the doubles will likely be scheduled on a major show court for safety reasons, All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis said on Monday.

The two-time Wimbledon champion and British home favourite, coming back from major hip resurfacing surgery, is easing his way back towards a possible singles return by playing doubles.

Wimbledon normally schedules three singles matches per day on the main show courts, and Murray, who has teamed up with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, will have to slot in afterwards whenever the singles are finished.

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“It depends what other matches are on and how certain you are they will finish on time,” said Lewis.

Murray will be almost certainly be put on either Centre Court or Court One to start with -- simply down to the security risk of marching him through thousands of fans to one of the lesser courts.

“One of the major considerations for Andy, I think first match in particular, is safety. That restricts the number of courts he can be on,” added Lewis.

“Obviously Centre and One are easy. I think once you get beyond Centre and One, it’s more problematic.

“After the first match, if the interest dies down a bit, we might have more flexibility where he plays.”

Wimbledon is the only one of the four Grand Slams where the men’s doubles is disputed over five sets but the tournament has no plans to fall into line with the rest.

“It’s one of the things that makes the men’s doubles at Wimbledon very special. It makes it the (main) doubles event in the world for that very reason,” said Lewis.

“There’s no evidence from the other Grand Slams that singles players would play more if it was best of three,” he added.

Seeding system to stay

Wimbledon uses its own formula for seeding -- taking into greater account players’ performances on grass -- leaving Rafael Nadal fuming about being seeded third, behind old rival Roger Federer, rather than at number two as per his world ranking.

“From our point of view, it wasn’t controversial,” said Lewis.

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“There is a good logic to the formula. There’s always going to be disappointed players.”

The roof on the 12,000-capacity Court One is now ready to be deployed after three years’ work -- but may not be used as the weather forecast is looking good.

“I’m very happy with that. If that’s what the insurance premium costs, that’s what it costs,” said Lewis.

Kevin Anderson and John Isner played out a six-hour, 36-minute semifinal in 2018. PHOTO: AFP

 

This year Wimbledon is introducing a tie-break in the final set at 12-12, following some marathon encounters in recent years that have gone way further.

Last year, Kevin Anderson and John Isner played out a six-hour, 36-minute semifinal, the second longest match in tournament history which was decided at 26-24 in the final set.

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“Statistically it will affect very few matches. The players have got a lot of time to sort it out themselves and if they haven’t by 12-12 there’s a very strong case for a tie break,” Lewis said.

Wimbledon also has no plans to go for on-court coaching.

“There’s a lot of people feel that tennis is very special because it is a gladiatorial contest. Whoever wins has done so on their own. They’ve solved all the problems during the matches themselves,” Lewis said.

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