The first match played entirely under Wimbledon’s new retractable roof produced a five-set marathon that finished later than any previous Centre Court encounter in history.
What’s more, it ended with a British winner celebrating in front of a raucous home crowd.
Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka battled for nearly four hours on Monday under the translucent roof and stadium floodlights before the third-seeded Scot closed out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory with a forehand winner at 10.39pm.
Murray sank to his knees and bowed his head on the grass. He then stood up and smacked a ball that hit the roof above.
“It was pretty special,” said Murray, who is bidding to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Previously, no Centre Court match had finished later than 9.35pm.
And at a tournament that began in 1877, not a single point had been played indoors until earlier on Monday, when a light sprinkle interrupted Dinara Safina’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Amelie Mauresmo — the first rain break of the tournament after a dry first week.
After the fifth game of the second set, the roof above the main stadium was closed, and Safina and Mauresmo finished up underneath — even though by the time they resumed, the rain had stopped.
Organizers decided to keep the roof closed for the Murray-Wawrinka match in case of more rain. In the end, the rain stayed away but the roof allowed the match to reach its completion while it was dark outside.
Murray was surprised by the decision and found the playing conditions hard to get used to.
“We were warming up outside,” he said. “It was dry. Was expecting to play without the roof, and then obviously it came. I had never played a grass court match indoors before and it made a difference.”
“It’s very, very heavy and very humid,” he said. “Sweating so much. From the start I noticed it very early ... When I finished, it was like I’d been in a bath.”
The closed conditions helped magnify the partisan support from Murray’s fans in the arena.
“At the end, that was probably the noisiest crowd I played in front of,” he said.
Murray faces Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarters after the Spaniard defeated Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The Scot could now enjoy an advantage over other players who haven’t experienced the indoor conditions yet.
“Now I know how I’ll have to change my game if I do play under the roof, and I’ll know the way that the court plays,” he said. “In my opinion, there’s quite a big difference.”
The momentum on Monday swung back and forth, with Wawrinka seeming to grab the edge when he served an ace to close out the fourth set and send the match to a fifth-set decider.
Murray then ran out to a 3-0 lead, but Wawrinka responded by winning three straight games of his own.
The match turned for good when Murray broke for 5-3 with a forehand winner down the line. He served out the match in the next game.
In other action on Monday Roger Federer fired past Robin Soderling for the second time in three weeks, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) to reach the men’s quarter-finals as the pair re-ran the recent French Open final.
The 2002 champion, Lleyton Hewitt, made his sixth career comeback from two sets to love down, overcoming a thigh strain to beat Radek Stepanek 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just short of three hours.
Men’s fourth seed Novak Djokovic took a quiet win against Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, while Croatian Ivo Karlovic defeated seventh seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), hitting 35 aces in the process.
German Tommy Haas, the oldest man remaining in the field at 31, reached the quarter-finals for the first time with a defeat of Russian Igor Andreev 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, 6-4.
No. 6 seed Andy Roddick beat the 20th seeded Czech Tomas Berdych.
In the women’s singles German Sabine Lisicki booked a surprise place in her first major quarter-finals, with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki while unseeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy defeated No. 26 seed Virginie Razzano.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
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ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two