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Major show court to host Andy Murray's opening doubles match on safety grounds


Gearing up: Andy Murray during a practice session
Gearing up: Andy Murray during a practice session

By Eleanor Crooks

Safety concerns mean Andy Murray's opening doubles match at Wimbledon is likely to be scheduled on either Centre Court or Court One.

Organisers are concerned about the difficulty of getting such a high-profile player through the crowds to a more distant court safely.

Chief executive Richard Lewis said: "One of the major considerations for Andy, I think first match in particular, is safety. That restricts the number of courts he can be on.

"Centre and One are easy. Once you get beyond Centre and One, it's more problematic.

"After the first match, if the interest dies down a little bit, you might be able to have more flexibility where he plays. It would be probable I think, depending upon what other matches are around, that he'll be on one of the major show courts."

Murray could play his first match as early as tomorrow with French partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert. If they are on Centre or Court One, they are likely to be scheduled after three singles matches, raising the possibility of the new Court One roof being used for the first time because of darkness rather than rain.

Murray's presence has certainly raised the profile of the doubles draw, and he put forward the suggestion that a reduction from best-of-five sets to best-of-three could attract more of the leading singles players.

Lewis, though, disagrees, and he said: "It's one of the things that makes the men's doubles at Wimbledon special. There's no evidence from the other Grand Slams that singles players would play more if it was best of three."

Lewis also played down the controversy over Roger Federer being seeded ahead of Rafael Nadal because of the formula used to reward grass court success.

Nadal does not believe the policy is fair, but Lewis said: "There's always going to be disappointed players. It's a formula, it's not discretionary. It's been in place for a long time.

"From our point of view, it wasn't controversial because we had no choice. I think there's a good logic to the formula, it reflects grass-court play, and that's where it is for this year.

"You could take the view that grass is so good now that the surface is not such a big factor but, when you look at the statistics, there are some players who perform better on grass consistently compared to others so I think there's a pretty strong case for it."

One innovation this year is the introduction of a tie-break if matches reach 12-12 in the deciding set. The catalyst was last year's semi-final, where Kevin Anderson finally defeated John Isner 26-24 in the final set, forcing the second last-four clash to be played over two days.

"Statistically it will affect very few matches," said Lewis. "It will be interesting to see if it does affect any matches. I think it's fair. It's a balanced approach.

"The players have got a lot of time to sort it out themselves and if they haven't by 12-12 there's probably a very strong case for let's have a tie-break."

Wimbledon, meanwhile, will stick to the policy they had last year for the men's football World Cup and will not show England Women's semi-final against USA on the big screen today.

Belfast Telegraph


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