Novak Djokovic’s title defence was left hanging in the balance when he fell behind two-sets-to-love against Sam Querrey before rain suspended his third round on Friday, while organisers announced play will return to Middle Sunday for the first time since 2004.
On yet another rainy day that wreaked havoc with the schedule at SW19, Djokovic was put on the roofless Court No.1 and the Serb was in serious trouble as he trailed American No.28 seed Querrey 6-7 (6), 1-6 before rain came to his rescue just after the clock struck 20:00.
An announcement was made soon after that no matches would resume on the outside courts due to the weather, which means the top seed will return for the rest of his match with Querrey on Saturday.
Last year, circumstance had also come to Djokovic’s aid. In the fourth round, he went down two-sets-to-love against Kevin Anderson and play was suspended due to bad light with the pair locked at two-sets-all. He returned the following day to beat Anderson in five, en route to capturing the title.
The rain interrupted play multiple times on all courts except Centre on Friday leaving several second round clashes not completed. That forced Wimbledon officials to make the rare call of allowing matches to be played on Middle Sunday which is traditionally an off day for the tournament.
The decision was announced late Friday night with one men’s singles second round and three women’s singles second rounds yet to conclude.
Rain disrupted action on Tuesday and Wednesday and although there was a full day’s play on Thursday, persistent showers meant there was hardly any play yesterday before 15:00.
Alexander Zverev and Mikhail Youzhny are into a fifth set in their second round with Tomas Berdych awaiting in the third.
In women’s action, second round encounters between Sloane Stephens and Mandy Minella, Timea Bacsinszky and Monica Niculescu, and Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Makarova are all incomplete.
Play on Middle Sunday has taken place on only three previous occasions in the tournament’s 139-year history – 1991, 1997 and 2004.