Developments at Wimbledon on Wednesday included Novak Djokovic joining Roger Federer and Serena Williams as the only players in tennis history to win 350 Grand Slam matches; a runner-up two years ago, Karolina Pliskova, eliminated in the first round against a qualifier; a No. 8 seeded player, Maria Sakkari, taking the first set 6-0 but managing to lose.
Ho-hum. That turned out to be one of the less unusual occurrences at the All England Club on Day 3 of this year’s tournament. That’s because much of the uproar at the venue concerned the protests and, yes, the rain.
Three environmental activists were arrested for disrupting matches by entering the court to throw orange confetti, hidden in boxes of 1,000-piece Center Court puzzles sold in tournament supply shops, and calling attention to an anti-oil organization. .
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«We’ve had enough disruption with the weather,» four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman, a board member for the All England Club, said on the BBC broadcast, «but to have disruption like that is disappointing.»
The showers that caused so much trouble on Tuesday returned on Wednesday, limiting the hours available for the competition and making everyone wait and wait and wait.
«Today was a little weird at first, because it wasn’t supposed to rain, then it started to rain,» said No. 6 Holger Rune, who eliminated Britain’s George Loffhagen 7-6 (4), 6-. 3, 6-2 in a first round that was originally supposed to take place on Tuesday. «It was a bit frustrating at the end.»
Consider: While four players who got to play in the two retractable-roof arenas are already in the third round, including Djokovic and No. 1 woman Iga Swiatek, there are 14 entrants who have yet to play a single point in the first round. . That latter group includes 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, 2020 US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev and Karolina Muchova, who lost to Swiatek in the French Open final last month.
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«It sure is very comfortable,» Swiatek said after beating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 6-0 on Center Court. «I’m happy that my games were scheduled indoors, so I always had the certainty that it would actually happen. It’s a little easier to prepare knowing that.»
The others who made it to the third round were Jannik Sinner and Daria Kasatkina.
Djokovic, holder of a men’s record 23 Grand Slam trophies, came within two points of losing the second set against Jordan Thompson before sealing the tiebreaker with an ace, then smacked his temple with his right index finger as he strutted toward the sideline en route to winning 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-5.
Seeking a record-tying eighth Wimbledon championship and a record-tying fifth consecutive championship, he was on Center Court, where he won 41 straight times, so he didn’t have to deal with the kind of stop-starts players endure. . like Americans Taylor Fritz, the No. 9 seed, and Frances Tiafoe, who is No. 10.
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Fritz’s first-round match against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany was called off midway through the fifth set on Monday and never resumed on Tuesday. So Fritz made many stews until he was finally able to return to Court No. 2 to wrap up his 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win.
«It’s hard to just sit on it, thinking about it for two days. You’re potentially (with) 15 minutes left in a match at the end, and for it to be a Grand Slam, joint fifth, it adds to that,» Fritz said. «I spent most of my time sitting on the bench near my locker in the locker room, like on my phone, like YouTube videos, whatever. Just killing time.»
Tiafoe seemed far less concerned.
He and China’s Wu Yibing were originally supposed to play on Tuesday, but they started on Wednesday. Tiafoe won 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4.
«These are ridiculous things,» Tiafoe said. «I ate a little, listened to music, joked around with other players. There really isn’t much to do. It’s not like I could go see a movie or anything. I mean, there’s not much to do. Just creepy, honestly.»
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One of the highlights of Tuesday’s schedule, 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem against two-time Grand Slam finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, went down just 1 1/2 sets that afternoon and became one of the highlights of the Wednesday schedule.
He ended up playing five sets and nearly four hours on Court No. 2 before Tsitsipas delivered a final forehand winner to close out their 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6 (10-8) win.
«It was pretty stressful,» said Tsitsipas, who plays Andy Murray on Thursday. «I won’t lie.»