Wimbledon confirms middle Sunday play as rain falls

Fri Jul 1, 2016 4:38pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Matches will be played on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon for the first time since 2004 after heavy downpours continued to plague the rain-ravaged tournament on Friday.

With play badly disrupted on Tuesday, Wednesday and again on Friday, meaning three second-round singles matches were still to be completed on day five, organizers have been forced to take advantage of what is usually a rest day.

The middle Sunday was first used in 1991 and again in 1997.

The fixture backlog meant 16 second-round singles matches were still to be completed at the start of play on Friday, but another stop-start day meant not all were completed.

In rain-free years, Friday would mark the first day of third-round matches in both the men's and women's singles competitions.

This year is the 25th anniversary of what was dubbed "People's Sunday" -- when the general public could buy tickets on the day for the showcourts.

In 1991, only 52 of 240 scheduled matches had been completed by Thursday evening.

Earlier, All England Club Chief Executive Richard Lewis said playing on Sunday was "not a scenario we are wishing to repeat in 2016". However, the fickle British summer intervened.

"The All England Club has confirmed that on account of the poor weather experienced to date in the first week, play will take place on Middle Sunday," organizers said in a statement.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 1/7/16 The scoreboard on court 1 displays a message as spectators wait during a rain delay  REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge