Did you manage to get a ticket for Wimbledon? No, me neither. There I was all present and correct on the dot at 1 pm with my code only to be told I was one billion in the queue, giving me about the same chance of getting tickets as winning Wimbledon itself.
Perhaps Queens had scheduled Andy Murray’s match second to console all the British fans who tried and failed in the online queue (can’t escape queuing when it comes to anything to do with Wimbledon, can we?). It would have been handy timing to detract from the disappointment had Andy won his match against Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini.
Alas, he lost.
Which was inevitable since he has barely played in recent months. More concerning was the performance – under-powered and error-strewn – even if he did scamper about as nimbly as Jerry mouse on the run from Tom cat. The question is was it mere ring rust or limitation due to his injuries? Either way, it doesn’t bode well for Wimbledon, where Andy has been given a wildcard. Let’s pray for a favourable draw.
It was a hat-trick of Wimbledon-related disappointment as the afternoon started with the sorry, but not surprising, news that Rafa Nadal would not be playing at SW19 this year, following his French Open exertions. He cited the reduced two-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon this year as one of the main reasons for his decision.
Blame the greedy French Open organisers who selfishly decided to delay the start by a week to allow them to let in more fans, then created new night sessions the year there was a Parisian curfew so had to chuck those fans out, usually during the most exciting part of the matches.
As always money trumps sense.
This is the second year in a row Nadal has missed a Grand Slam due to the French Open organisers scheduling their tournament whenever they feel like it. A year ago, they blithely messed with the US Open by rescheduling the French Open in the autumn, again forcing a two-week window between the two slams. It meant the US Open lost its reigning champion. This year, it is Wimbledon’s turn to lose its former two-time champion.
So with Rafa’s absence, Roger’s dodgy knees and Andy’s crocked hip, is Wimbledon going to be anything but a procession for Novak Djokovic? It would seem the only real competition is going to be who will meet him in the final. It’s akin to the old Wimbledon challenge-round system, where the defending champion received a bye into the final and everyone else competed for the honour of playing them in the final. So dominant is Djokovic right now that it feels like every Grand Slam has a challenge-round system for the honour of meeting Djokovic in the final!
The only crumb of comfort for everyone else is that the last time Novak Djokovic won the French Open – in 2016 – appearing invincible as he completed the non-calendar Grand Slam, it was the end rather than the continuation of his period of dominance at the time.
History is unlikely to repeat itself in this instance. The only history that’s likely is Djokovic making it 20 Grand Slams at Wimbledon to join Roger and Rafa on top of the all-time list.
Bookending the day comes yet more disappointing news that four-time women’s Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon. Blame the French Open – again. Osaka chose to put her mental health first in declining to attend pointless press conferences at the tournament, but was threatened with disqualification by the organisers, prompting her to withdraw and take time out from the tour. Talk about sledgehammer to crack nut. The French Open organisers are nothing if not consistent in their stupidity, but again Wimbledon will be the poorer for it.
Maybe missing out on Wimbledon tickets in such an awkward year isn’t too much of a big deal after all.