Wimbledon Slice, Day 7: Centre Court shines


The best day of the tournament turned seamlessly into the night of nights as Wimbledon took a step into the unknown -- and loved what it found there.

When talk of a new roof to cover Centre Court was mooted several years ago the traditionalists cried foul, claiming old champions like Fred Perry and Suzanne Lenglen would turn in their graves at such a sacrilege being inflicted upon tennis' foremost cathedral.

Even those of us who supported the luminescent and costly contraption could scarcely have imagined the extra dimension it would add, merely envisaging a practical barrier to the inevitable London murk and rain.

Yet on Monday night, Centre Court gleamed like never before, as Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka dragged a contest of power and passion into the twilight hours and took the tournament into uncharted waters.

How appropriate it was that Murray, a shining beacon of hope for the success-starved home nation, was at the core of it all, eventually edging out Wawrinka, the fearless Swiss 19th seed, in five thrilling sets in the first official Wimbledon match to be played entirely under cover.

Perry and Lenglen, if they had still been with us, and anyone else who cares about this grand old event, could not fail to have been moved by Monday night.

Unlike the Australian and U.S. Opens, they won't ever add full-fledged night sessions at Wimbledon, as the Centre Court grass would be unable to take the additional wear and tear.

If Monday is to be a limited edition, one brought about in this case by a combination of some late afternoon drizzle and a match that refused to end, then what an edition it was.

A cacophony of sound bounced around the arena, where there were three stars -- Murray, Wawrinka and the venue itself.

As darkness engulfed west London and the full power of the lights kicked in, Centre Court was transformed into something almost futuristic, yet somehow still in keeping with the roots of this finest of all events.

The All England Club, so often viewed as a backward bastion of stuffiness and sentiment, has pulled off a minor miracle with this roof and the atmosphere it brings.

Because now not only is Wimbledon the most traditional of tournaments, it is now, in a perfect paradox, the most contemporary.


Ana Ivanovic bowed out of the tournament in tears as she retired with a thigh injury while trailing Venus Williams by a set. Ivanovic has been in miserable form, failing to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since she won the 2008 French Open, but her performance at Wimbledon gives some cause for optimism.


Germany's Sabine Lisicki has been touted as a star of the future for the past couple of years and this year's Wimbledon has thrust her into the spotlight. Lisicki beat a seeded player for the third time in the tournament Monday (fellow teenager Caroline Wozniacki) and has the game to win the tournament if she can conquer big-match nerves.


With world No. 1 Rafael Nadal out injured and unable to defend his crown, it has been fitting that a quartet of men who previously were ranked as the best on the planet have stepped up to the plate.

Roger Federer is cruising and is a strong favorite for the title, and Andy Roddick looks to make his third trip to a final at the All England Club.

But it has been the form of Lleyton Hewitt and Juan Carlos Ferrero, both of whom have slipped way down the rankings over the past year, that has really caught the eye.


Hewitt's fight back from two sets down against Radek Stepanek was an early contender for this award but in the end there could be only one winner: Murray's historic triumph over Wawrinka was not only the best match of Monday but the best of the tournament so far.


Women's quarterfinals: Lisicki beats Dinara Safina; Victoria Azarenka beats S. Williams, V. Williams beats Agnieszka Radwanska; Elena Dementieva beats Francesca Schiavone.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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