WIMBLEDON — Just another Manic Monday? Not last year, not this year, and probably never again.
So too Middle Sunday, or as it occasionally became known, a People’s Sunday. The day of rest for the Wimbledon grass was abandoned last year in favour of a more well-paced schedule and one that fits TV and live audiences better.
Fans who cannot take a day off work during the week get an extra chance to go to the tennis and kids don’t have to miss a day of school. On TV, the championships benefits from a whole day of prime viewing real estate.
In the modern era when “letting the courts rest” is largely unnecessary, a seventh day of rest seems anachronous.
The change risks reducing Manic Monday, which used to feature 16 fourth-round matches across the men’s and women’s draw, to just another Monday, which both Prince and The Bangles agree does not scan so well.
However, the running order for Middle Monday, as it must surely be renamed, does not disappoint.
Ones to watch
The jewel in its crown is No 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz up against 2021 finalist Matteo Berrettini, who is out for revenge against the universe after a torrent of bad luck since defeat to Novak Djokovic here two years ago.
Last year, he needed surgery on a hand injury that saw him miss the Miami Open and the whole clay-court swing, including Roland Garros. He returned for the grass and retained his Queen’s title, only to pull out of Wimbledon on the eve of the tournament after catching Covid.
Before this year’s edition, there was speculation whether he would even play at all because of an ongoing abdominal injury. Just a few weeks ago in Stuttgart, he left the court in tears.
Now, he is in the fourth round of Wimbledon, and will be back on Centre Court against one of the best players in the world in the shape of Alcaraz.
“I have to say, I’m not seeded, but it’s a tough draw!” Berrettini said with a grin.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. But I’m so glad that I have this kind of opportunity right now.
“I remember watching him play Roland Garros from my TV. Now it’s going to be me against him. I’m really happy for that. I think this is going to help me to go there and enjoy and find that extra energy that I was talking about.”
But Alcaraz and Berrettini is by no means the only show in town. Defending champion Elena Rybakina faces Beatriz Haddad Maia, the Brazilian No 13 seed who won titles on grass last year and has played three of the seven longest matches in the women’s game in 2023.
Expect a dramatic and potentially gruelling battle. “A tricky player… and a fighter,” Rybakina called her, with typical understatement. That match starts before Novak Djokovic takes to Centre Court to resume his match two sets up against Hubert Hurkacz.
But Middle Monday’s hidden gem might be out on No 2 Court, which is all ticketed these days sadly but still a little more accessible than the bigger venues. Christopher Eubanks is the tallest player left in the men’s singles at 6ft 7in and knocked out British No 1 Cameron Norrie in the second round.
The 27-year-old has an enormous serve and a single-handed backhand that make him a fun player to watch, and Stefanos Tsitsipas will not relish having to play him.
Eubanks has spent much of his career outside the top 100 in the world but will be inside the top 40 when the rankings refresh after Wimbledon, and he says he is glad not to worry about it so much.
“Trying to get to that 110 to top 100, I was checking the rankings like crazy,” Eubanks says.
“Now I’m just kind of enjoying it and having fun. Where the ranking is it is. I’m not too concerned about it at this point.”
A couple of potential upsets No 1 Court, where No 3 seed Daniil Medvedev opens play against Jiri Lehecka, who must not be underestimated after beating two seeded players already – Francisco Cerundolo (18) and Tommy Paul (16).
Medvedev is a hard-court expert made more so by his disdain for clay, while on grass he remains a work in progress, the Russian yet to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals and exiting early in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and then in the last eight at Halle.
Women’s No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka will be next on No 1 Court, where the 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist is up against Ekaterina Alexandrova, the champion in ‘s-Hertogenbosch who then reached the semis of Berlin.
Brits in action
No British players are left in the singles, but there plenty playing in the doubles today including Jamie Murray, who resumes his mixed doubles campaign with USA’s Taylor Townsend in the last match on Court 18.
British duo Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson are in mixed action out on Court 12 in the fourth match, while Neal Skupski is the top seed in the men’s doubles with Dutchman Wesley Koolhof. They are second out on No 3 Court.
Order of play
Centre Court (1.30pm)
- (13) Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra) vs (3) Elena Rybakina (Kaz)
- Not before 2.30pm, to finish: (2) Novak Djokovic (Srb) leads (17) Hubert Hurkacz (Pol) 7-6, 7-6
- (6) Ons Jabeur (Tun) vs (9) Petra Kvitova (Cze)
- (1) Carlos Alcaraz (Spa) vs Matteo Berrettini (Ita)
No 1 Court (1pm)
- (3) Daniil Medvedev (Rus) vs Jiri Lehecka (Cze)
- (21) Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus) vs (2) Aryna Sabalenka (Blr)
- (21) Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) vs (6) Holger Rune (Den)
All courts below start at 11am
No 2 Court
- (25) Madison Keys (USA) vs Mirra Andreeva (Rus)
- Christopher Eubanks (USA) vs (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre)
- (5) Santiago Gonzalez (Mex) & Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) vs Toby Samuel (Gbr) & Connor Thomson (Gbr)
- Jacob Fearnley (Gbr) & Johannus Monday (Gbr) vs (6) Rohan Bopanna (Ind) & Matthew Ebden (Aus)
- Wesley Koolhof (Ned) & Neal Skupski (Gbr) vs Rinky Hijikata (Aus) & Jason Kubler (Aus)
- Kevin Krawietz (Ger) & Zhaoxuan Yang (Chn) vs (5) Matthew Ebden (Aus) & Ellen Perez (Aus)
- (14) Victoria Azarenka (Blr) & Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra) vs Laura Siegemund (Ger) & Vera Zvonareva (Rus)
- Caroline Garcia (Fra) & Luisa Stefani (Bra) vs Timea Babos (Hun) & Kirsten Flipkens (Bel)
- Robert Galloway (USA) & Lloyd Harris (Rsa) vs (2) Ivan Dodig (Cro) & Austin Krajicek (USA)
- (9) Nikola Mektic (Cro) & Mate Pavic (Cro) vs Francisco Cabral (Por) & Rafael Matos (Bra)
- Ivan Dodig (Cro) & Latisha Chan (Tpe) vs Joe Salisbury (Gbr) & Heather Watson (Gbr)
- Fang-Hsien Wu (Tpe) & Lin Zhu (Chn) vs (16) Caroline Dolehide (USA) & Shuai Zhang (Chn)
- Marie Bouzkova (Cze) & Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spa) vs (12) Hao-Ching Chan (Tpe) & Latisha Chan (Tpe)
- Lidziya Marozava (Blr) & Ingrid Martins (Bra) vs Oksana Kalashnikova (Geo) & Iryna Shymanovich (Blr)
- (13) Miyu Kato (Jpn) & Aldila Sutjiadi (Ina) vs Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) & Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Cze)
- Nicolas Mahut (Fra) & Anna Danilina (Kaz) vs Andrea Vavassori (Ita) & Ludmilla Samsonova (Rus)
- (8) Jean-Julien Rojer (Ned) & Ena Shibahara (Jpn) vs Matwe Middelkoop (Ned) & Aldila Sutjiadi (Ina)
- Miriam Kolodziejova (Cze) & Marketa Vondrousova (Cze) vs (15) Marta Kostyuk (Ukr) & Elena Gabriela Ruse (Rom)
- Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Spa) & Adrian Mannarino (Fra) vs (4) Hugo Nys (Mon) & Jan Zielinski (Pol)
- Romain Arneodo (Mon) & Tristan-Samuel Weissborn (Aut) vs (12) Sander Gille (Bel) & Joran Vliegen (Bel)
- (4) Wesley Koolhof (Ned) & Leylah Fernandez (Can) vs Jonny O’Mara (Gbr) & Olivia Nicholls (Gbr)
- Ariel Behar (Uru) & Adam Pavlasek (Cze) vs (8) Fabrice Martin (Fra) & Andreas Mies (Ger)
- Naiktha Bains (Gbr) & Maia Lumsden (Gbr) vs Viktoria Hruncakova (Slo) & Tereza Mihalikova (Svk)
- Sadio Doumbia (Fra) & Fabien Reboul (Fra) vs (16) Marcelo Melo (Bra) & John Peers (Aus)
- Marcelo Arevalo (Esa) & Marta Kostyuk (Ukr) vs Jamie Murray (Gbr) & Taylor Townsend (USA)