With Wimbledon, most of the things are down to tradition which puts it apart from the rest of the three Grand Slam tournaments in the year. It could be the all-white playing attire, blue and purple theme, strawberries and cream, the Royal box, the queuing and the tents outside SW19. Besides them, another aspect that puts Wimbledon apart is the tradition of not playing on the first Sunday. With a day’s break in between, the matches for the fourth round are all packed on one day which is suitably referred to as ‘Manic Monday’. The day can easily be considered as the biggest day in the Championship with the tournament at its halfway stage and lots of story lines unfolding. It brings together big guns taking on players who are making a comeback from injury or promising newcomers looking to make their mark further having already done a good job in the first three matches. There is a strong possibility that a future champion or upset of the Championships can come on this day – Day 7 at Wimbledon.
“It’s unlike other grand slams. Wimbledon is very unique because it’s not played on middle Sunday. So Monday is a big day for all the players, both men and women,” said World No 1 Novak Djokovic. “It is even more so for the tournament and fans. It’s one of the days where you can get probably the most quality matches, both singles and doubles, men and women, that you can have throughout the entire tournament,” said the Serb, a three-times Wimbledon winner.
Tomas Berdych reckoned fans who have tickets for Monday’s play have chosen carefully. “I would say it’s the best day of tennis that you can see. I think if anybody asked me for a day that they want to go to the tennis, I would say the second Monday of the Wimbledon, because you see men’s, women’s, you see last 16. So you see a lot of matches so you can also go to the ground courts and you’re still going to see a great match up. I think it’s the best day in tennis,” he said.
Stepping away from the impending noise of Mondya, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov relished the calm and quiet of Sunday. “Everything is so calm. It’s just us, the players. All you can hear is the hitting of the ball. You can just hear how the ball sits on the strings. You just hear that. Honestly, it’s a pretty special feeling. It puts a huge smile on my face,” he said.
So it comes down to this. 16 matches, every fourth round match in a single day and packed courts all around the park. So on Monday, men and women with 64 Grand Slam titles between them, will step up on court and try to keep their journey going to win one of the biggest Grand Slams on offer.
On the men’s side, the so called ‘Big 4’ of Andy Murray, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will take court for just the second time in six years. They’ve been in dominant form so far in the first week with just one set lost between them (Murray dropped the second set to Fabio Fognini). 12 of the sixteen men left in the men’s draw are over 28 years old with Alexander Zverev – at 20 years old – the youngest of the lot.
Things on the women’s side are more varied as far as the age barometer is concerned. Venus Williams, at 37, is the oldest woman left in the women’s draw and as she chases a sixth Wimbledon title, she is also the only former winner left in the fray. Up against her is Ana Konjuh who is nicknamed ‘baby Serena’ – who also happens to Venus’ younger sister. It would put the Croatian at a disadvantage that she plays not only a veteran of the tour but a woman who last lost to a teenager 13 years back.
Things are on the line as far as the World No 1 ranking is concerned on both sides of the tour but it is hotter on the women’s side. If Angelique Kerber, who plays Garbine Muguruza, loses, her top ranking goes away with her with multiple women interested in taking over.
Speaking of the aforementioned category of players returning to the tour, Victoria Azarenka fits the bill as she continues her comeback since giving birth to son Leo in November. She will give Simona Halep, who will create a record of staying inside the top-10 in WTA rankings when Wimbledon comes to a close, a run for her money. But the Romanian Halep would much rather have the No 1 and the title come Saturday.
Order of Play and scheduling debate
More often than not, the debate in tennis away from the court surrounds the order of play. Fans express displeasure at how players are scheduled to feature on court. But this time, the rage from journalists and fans alike revolves around the displeasure with the organisers over keeping Venus vs Konjuh first up on Center Court. Meanwhile a contest of Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza – two women with three Grand Slams between them – has been reduced to Court 2. Second on Court 2 is Azarenka vs Halep in what is expected to be a cracker of a contest.
The British hope of Murray and ‘Royalty’ in Federer have both been kept on Center Court with four men’s matches kept on the bigger courts in Center and Court 1. Nadal and Djokovic are second and third on Court 1.
CENTER COURT: Konjuh vs Venus, Murray vs Benoit Paire, Dimitrov vs Federer
Court 1: Johanna Konta vs Caroline Garcia, Nadal vs Gilles Muller, Adrian Mannarino vs Djokovic
Court 2: Kerber vs Muguruza, Halep vs Azarenka
Court 3: Agnieszka Radwanska vs Svetlana Kuznetsova, CoCo Vandeweghe vs Caroline Wozniacki, Dominic Thiem vs Berdych
Court 12: Jelena Ostapenko vs Elina Svitolina, Roberto Bautista Agut vs Marin Cilic
Court 18: Magdalena Rybarikova vs Petra Martic, Sam Querrey vs Kevin Anderson.