A number of tennis pundits have suggested a surprising snub from Wimbledon organisers may have contributed to Roger Federer’s shock quarter-final loss.
Federer’s quest for a ninth title at The All England Club came to a dramatic end with just his fifth defeat from two sets up in an unparalleled 20-year, 1415-match career.
The 20-times grand slam champion blew a third-set match point before succumbing 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-4 13-11 to big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in a four-hour, 14-minute quarter-final thriller on Tuesday.
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And a number of pundits reckon the Swiss Maestro might have been thrown by the fact that he was relegated to Court 1 by Novak Djokovic’s match with Kei Nishikori.
Djokovic won his battle to be promoted to Centre Court billing for the quarter-finals, forcing Federer off the sport’s most famous arena for the first time in three years.
BBC Sport corespondent Russell Fuller said Federer wouldn’t have been used to less than royal treatment afforded to those playing outside the main arena.
“How do we get to the Court One commentary box? We’re going through corridors underneath the Championships, by the bins, by the kitchen, it’s a bit smelly out here,” he said.
“That’s how Roger had to come out here. He’s not used to that.
“He comes serenely guiding down the steps at the All England Club, he waits for someone to basically carry his bag and he walks straight out to Centre Court.
“He doesn’t walk past bins. He’s Roger Federer. I’m sure that slightly plays into his mind. Then he’s on Court One and he’s in a real battle. Just all these little half a percents add up.
“We are trying to find reasons for this as it just shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t make sense.
“We see it time and time again that big players, great players lose on courts that aren’t Centre Court.”
Fuller added that the condition of the court would also have affected Federer.
“I think the Court One was factor. I was talking to Greg Rusedski earlier and he says the two courts play completely differently.
“When someone like Greg says completely differently, he probably means a little difference.
“For Roger Federer or someone like Greg, these elite players, that is a huge difference. The balls bounce higher apparently, they’re just different courts.”
Federer refused to blame the unfamiliar surrounds of Court One, despite never looking entirely comfortable on it.
“It’s just not one of my best days,” he said.
“It’s one of those average days you have to try to win the match, and I just couldn’t get it done.”
Djokovic has featured just once on Centre Court — against British home favourite Kyle Edmund in the last 32 — in the opening four rounds.
By contrast, Federer and Nadal have always played exclusively on the 15,000-seater Centre Court.
Djokovic had told reporters that he had been hopeful of playing his quarter-final match on Centre Court before telling Serbian media that he “deserved” the honour and intended to lobby the All England Club.
Djokovic has played twice on the 11,000-capacity Court One this year but was shunted off to the 4,000-seater Court Two for his second round clash against Horacio Zeballos.
Three times he has been scheduled last on court, putting him at risk of falling victim to fading light with the burden of having to return the following day.
He managed to finish off Russia’s Karen Khachanov in straight sets in the gathering gloom on Monday.
Twelve months ago, his last-16 match with Adrian Mannarino, also scheduled for Court One, was cancelled despite Centre Court with its retractable roof being available.
Djokovic had to play that fourth round match on the Tuesday and quarter-final on the Wednesday, when he was forced to retire against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury.