Novak Djokovic calls for Wimbledon to start showcourt matches earlier after late finish

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Novak Djokovic - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Novak Djokovic - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Novak Djokovic has been told of talks about starting Wimbledon’s showcourt schedule earlier after his fourth-round match under the roof lights almost extended into a second day due to the 11pm curfew.

The start times were further put back on Sunday by the Centre Court centenary celebrations and play was ultimately only completed with 20 minutes to spare even after all three matches were won relatively convincingly.

Djokovic had begun his day with the 1.30pm celebration and, although he did not leave SW19 until nearly midnight after completing all his media duties, was just relieved that he was not back playing again on Monday.

As well as starting on Centre Court at 1.30pm rather than 1pm, post-match on-court interviews have been added in recent years and there is typically also a 20-minute break between matches. All of this has meant that the third match on Centre Court often now finishes after dark and under a roof that was widely thought to have been introduced to mitigate rain rather than light.  

“I hear there are some talks about maybe moving the beginning of the matches, the first matches on the big courts, especially Centre Court, a bit earlier,” said Djokovic, the defending men’s champion.

“I don't see a reason why there wouldn't be an earlier start, to be honest, particularly now that there are on-court interviews that we didn't have up to a few years ago. Also the time between the matches. You almost certainly, if you're scheduled last on the Centre, going to end up a match under the roof, which changes the conditions, the style of play, the way you move on the court. It's more slippery.

Novak Djokovic playing under the roof during his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Tim van Rijthoven - Adam Davy/PA Wire
Novak Djokovic playing under the roof during his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Tim van Rijthoven - Adam Davy/PA Wire

“It's really an indoor tournament in most of the cases when you're scheduled last on Centre or Court One, for that matter. I think most of the players would probably agree that we would all want the start of the match on Centre Court pushed earlier.”

Andy Murray was last week beaten under the roof in the second round after also playing his first round in virtual indoor conditions. The late finishes are also unpopular with some fans, particularly families, although they do ensure that broadcasters have exciting live action that can potentially now stretch all the way from 11am until 11pm.

Asked how he knew that a change might be coming Djokovic said: “I heard there were some conversations. My coach [Goran Ivanisevic] has told me he has heard. I don't know. I don't know from whom he has heard. He's been close with Tim Henman and some people from the club. I don't know whether he has heard it from them. But he has told me there's some talks about eventually approaching this issue a bit differently.

“Since there are some changes this year that we never thought we'll see in Wimbledon, why not move it for half an hour, one hour earlier? I think it would be quite helpful to finish matches maybe not using the roof.”

Changes this year have included allowing players to practise on Centre Court before the tournament, matches on the middle Sunday and fifth set tie-breaks.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting