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Wimbledon won't budge on World Cup

China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-11 11:07
Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a return to Russia's Karen Khachanov during their fourth-round match at Wimbledon on Monday. Djokovic romped to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win to reach the last eight for a 10th time. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Wimbledon chiefs were adamant on Monday that the men's final will start at its traditional time on July 15, despite clashing with a potential England World Cup triumph.

But they have no objection if Centre Court spectators want to take sneak peeks of the action from Moscow on their phones.

The All England Club has come under increasing pressure to rethink its 2 pm start time for Sunday's men's singles final, with the soccer showpiece in Moscow kicking off at 4 pm in the UK .

Should England defeat Croatia in Wednesday's semifinal, the Three Lions will feature in a World Cup final for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1966.

"It is purely our decision to stay at 2 pm. It will stay this year, it will stay next year," said All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis.

However, Lewis said he would have no objection if many of the 15,000 fans inside Centre Court wanted to follow the soccer on their devices - as long as they did not disturb the players.

"Our attitude is if people aren't affecting other people's enjoyment of the tennis because they've got it on silent or whatever, or they are listening with an earphone, or whatever, that's fine," he said.

Defending champion Roger Federer, who is more than likely to be playing in Sunday's final, joked that maybe the World Cup final should move to accommodate the Wimbledon title match.

"I'm more concerned the World Cup final will have issues because the Wimbledon final is going on," said the eight-time champion after seeing off France's Adrian Mannarino in straight sets on Monday.

"They'll hear every point, Wow, Love-15, 15-30. The players (at the World Cup) are going to look up in the crowd and not understand what's going on at Wimbledon!

"That's how important Wimbledon is to me and to us over here."

Lewis also insisted that there were no plans to show either Wednesday's semifinal or Sunday's final of the World Cup on Wimbledon's giant TV screen, which is attached to one of the sides of Court One.

Last Saturday, England made the semifinals with victory over Sweden as action at Wimbledon took place.

"Saturday was one of the most special days I can remember at the championships. The tennis was very good and there was a historic football match going on," added Lewis.

"People followed the football on their devices thanks to modern technology without disturbing other spectators.

"You can tell when England scored and it was wonderful, but we didn't receive any complaints that the enjoyment of tennis had been spoiled.

"I am sure the same again will happen on Wednesday - and hopefully on Sunday. People get Wimbledon, and we get the balance right."

'Something special'

Lewis has become exasperated by stories that the All England Club has been indifferent to the national wave of affection engulfing Gareth Southgate's soccer team.

"We have a very strong public wi-fi signal and it worked brilliantly on Saturday," he said.

"That indicates that we are supportive of the World Cup and that we are certainly not turning down the signal strength.

"We are a tennis tournament, but we are aware that there is something special going on elsewhere.

"I have met Gareth Southgate, he's a great guy. Jeremy Dier (the father of England and Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier) is a member of the club. I have known Eric since he was a teenager."

Should England make the final on Sunday, it's possible the men's match might not even be over - especially if Federer and Rafael Nadal are involved.

Ten years ago, Nadal triumphed over his great rival in a five-set, five-hour epic.

Meanwhile, Croatia's Donna Vekic, who was knocked out of Wimbledon by Julia Goerges of Germany in the fourth round on Monday, said she will be sending "good vibes" to her country's soccer team in Russia.

"I think it would be huge if we win. We are a country of four million people," said the 22-year-old.

"I saw a few pictures of the size of Croatia compared to size of Russia, and I think if we are already in the semifinals it is unbelievable, but if we can make it further, it's really good, as well."




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