LONDON (Reuters) - The All England Club was strangely silent on Sunday as Wimbledon took a pause for breath before the most intense day of the tournament - Manic Monday.
While it seems odd for one of the world’s biggest sports events to take a day off in the middle of competition, there is a good rationale for the schedule and a reward for the restraint.
Just as a fine bottle of wine benefits from being given time to breathe, the Wimbledon vintage is just that little more special after a day off.
On Monday every player, men and women, remaining in the tournament, takes to the court to fight for a place in the quarter-finals.
It’s the business end of the tournament and instead of the early stages messily merging into the last 16 match-ups, the tournament presses the re-set button and the pause amplifies the sense of drama to come.
“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 Novak Djokovic who takes on France’s Adrian Mannarino.
“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.
Eleventh seed Tomas Berdych, beaten finalist in 2010, has an intriguing match against Austria’s rising star Dominic Thiem on Court Three and the Czech believes fans with tickets for Monday have chosen wisely.
“I would say it’s the best day of tennis that you can see,” says Berdych.
”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.
Indeed, away from big stadium courts, fans can see title contenders such as French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko taking on fourth-seed Elina Svitolina on Court 12.
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov has prime billing on Centre Court against seven-times Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and while he is relishing that prospect he savoured the silence 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.”
Editing by Ed Osmond