A distressed Daria Savile admits she was thrown off by one of the two protests that disrupted play on day three at Wimbledon and left the tennis world incensed. Saville went down to Britain's Katie Boulter 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in a match that lasted just under two hours, over two rain-interrupted days.
Saville's Wimbledon dream was derailed after a confetti-throwing protester disrupted her match, while the Aussie was leading 4-2 in a first-set tiebreak. An elderly Just Stop Oil protester burst on to court as the players were going to the changeover, and started littering the court with confetti, before being apprehended by officials and escorted away.
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The Aussie helped staff clean up the confetti while Boulter went into a cocoon of concentration at courtside. When they resumed play five minutes later, Saville admitted her concentration may have been affected as the British No.1 took control and won the next nine points in a row, taking the tiebreak 7-4 before then winning the first game of the second set.
"I've always struggled with concentration, so it's probably the toughest circumstances I have had to deal with." It was the second protest of the day after two other activists were also arrested after spilling confetti on the same court during an earlier men's singles match featuring Grigor Dimitrov.
"It was upsetting. I was like 'Oh, my God, why on my court out of all of them?' and I'm the worst with being able to refocus," said Saville, who added that she was also a bit distressed at the sight of the protester being dragged off by security. Boulter was able to ride the momentum after clinching the first set, to comfortably take the second and book her place in the next round.
Latest protest leaves viewers fuming
The incident was the latest Just Stop Oil protest to disrupt a major sporting event in the UK, with a similar stunt being carried out at Lord's on the opening day of the second Ashes Test. Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman condemned the "unacceptable" actions of the Wimbledon protesters and promised tough penalties as fans also hit out in anger on social media.
— Josh Heriot (@Josh_Heriot) July 5, 2023
The protesters have a point, but this is sort of disruption is plainly unacceptable and ridiculous
— the cosmos in a teacup (@adastra1729) July 5, 2023
There’s another Just Stop Oil protest at Wimbledon.
This time they interrupted Katie Boulter & Daria Saville on Court 18
At this point, I’m wondering how many more of these they have planned out.
That’s 2 protests and we aren’t even halfway through the schedule. pic.twitter.com/Dp4OZPFtoJ
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) July 5, 2023
— Katie Smith (@K_CroydenSmith) July 5, 2023
How selfish is that?
“This is unacceptable. We will be uncompromisingly tough on the selfish protesters intent on spoiling our world-class sporting occasions this summer."https://t.co/AaJtwUKC6Y pic.twitter.com/mcjBF6RcYd
— 💧 Janine Climate #TheScienceIsClear (@JanineClimate) July 5, 2023
— Qasa (@QasaAlom) July 5, 2023
Aussies bundled out on brutal day
With Storm Hunter out on the first day, Saville's defeat means there are no more Australian women left in the singles draw. It came on a brutal day for Aussie players in general, with Jordan Thompson putting up a brave fight but almost inevitably succumbing to a straight-sets defeat to seven-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Thompson earned a salute from the great Djokovic for his considerable effort in a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 defeat. "I do want to be tested, but I don't really know if I wanted to meet him (Thompson) this early in the tournament," Djokovic told the Centre Court crowd.
Fans took Thompson to their hearts so much that Djokovic ended up cupping his hand to his ears afterwards as if to suggest he had been rather unimpressed. Sydneysider Alexei Popyrin also threw away a 4-1 lead in the final set of his see-saw first-round match against rising Swiss Dominic Stricker and looked a picture of frustration after a 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 loss.
But on another rain-interrupted day there was at least some late-evening encouragement for the Australians with Alex de Minaur, Jason Kubler and Chris O'Connell all leading their first-round matches when darkness forced a suspension.
De Minaur, being cheered on by his girlfriend Boulter, had come from behind to lead Belgian qualifier Kimmer Coppejans 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3, Kubler was 6-4 4-6 6-2 up against Frenchman Ugo Humbert, while O'Connell extended his lead over Serbia's Hamad Medjedovic to two sets, 7-5 6-4.
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