Rain – a formidable foe

It should no longer be a surprise when rain halts play at Wimbledon. It has long been a tradition for the outdoor summer tournament, along with strawberries and cream and Sir Cliff Richard. The sight of court officials rushing on to cover up the court is almost certain to be observed at least once per competition, even if there’s just a brief smattering of drizzle.

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A few years ago, an effort was made to curtail these frequent events, at least on Centre Court. They built a roof. A no-brainer you’d think, when rain is often tennis’ worst enemy. The lid is there to allow play to continue (after a half-hour break to get conditions inside just right, of course), granting the biggest stars of the sport a chance to finish their games and gain an unneeded advantage over prospective opponents waiting to end theirs.

So, it’s outright baffling when play is postponed, initially for an hour, then for an entire evening, because of spitting rain. This affected Roger Federer’s game, one that had already been disrupted to allow Federer to receive treatment. Later, it was the turn of Andy Murray, who had bizarrely been placed on Court 1; rain inevitably began to fall and the relatively one-sided match was called to a halt. Drizzle persisted, but Novak Djokovic was able to continue his march to another win inside the now-covered Centre Court. Even when he finished, Murray’s match was not moved to Centre and he now faces the prospect of playing three games in four days. As of writing this, Murray was able to dispatch of Cilic in straight sets, giving him vital time to prepare for his quarter-final match.

The officials at Wimbledon insist that the tournament is an outdoor event and would rather only use the roof under poor light. In my very humble opinion, rain is a far worse culprit of ruining the flow of matches and should be employed whenever a substantial period of bad weather is forecast. Forget traditions! It has quickly become clear that the crowds at Wimbledon (crowds usually plied with Pimm’s, no less) love the indoor atmosphere and many of the players respond to this. Centre Court, the centrepiece of the world’s finest tennis showcase (bar the ATP World Tour Finals, my second favourite) and deserves a bit of grandeur and excitement to go with its pomp and stuffiness. I wouldn’t go as far as fitting a roof to Court 1, that would dilute its effectiveness. What I would like to see is matches completed when scheduled and fewer highlights on TV when the rain inevitably spoils our fun.

And don’t worry, we’ll have to muse over this all over again in a few weeks, when Olympic tennis lands in Wimbledon! Hopefully, the weather won’t be as stuffy as the men in suits.

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The Tour de France really confuses me.

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Seemingly hundreds of riders careering down the narrow roads of France (and Belgium). Despite a huge group sticking together for most of the race, it seems to be the case that the same riders make it over the finish line first on most occasions. However! That doesn’t appear to be the be-all and end-all, as there are a number of different jerseys to be won; even though points are awarded for what position you finish in, there’s an entirely different championship for times. Better still, a polka-dot jersey is awarded for the “King of the Mountains”, whatever that means. With such a fuddled mess of winners and coloured jumpers littering the massive field, it’s no wonder that people prefer to watch marathons, despite their similarities.

I feel for the support riders in the teams, the ones that aren’t really allowed to win. Their ultimate goal is to get somebody else to the finish line, providing them with water, protection and a wind shield. Team Sky, the one British team in the race, is one example that has caught my eye. This year, they’ve decided to push Bradley Wiggins as their lead rider, using all other cyclists to help him win. There can be up to eight or so team members circling him at all time, ensuring he’s never too far from the race leader. In this situation, that means that the world’s fastest sprinter, Mark Cavendish, doesn’t get the help he may need. Despite this possible disadvantage, Cavendish decided to do away with the paltry two Sky riders dispatched to help him, tailed another team’s trail and eventually used them to win Monday’s stage, his 21st ever.

Sky’s position may be to give Wiggins the win he deserves, but Cavendish is a true star and it is only him that is making this competition remotely interesting. He has admitted he is not in this race to win too many stages (although one win in two full stages says otherwise) and he’s looking forward to the Olympics. With talent like him in Team GB, so am I.

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Other News

Kevin Pietersen isn’t having the best of times at the moment. Having retired from England’s one-day team, he was forced to drop out from the Twenty20 form, right before the World Cup. Things went from bad to worse yesterday with Surrey in the t20 match against Hampshire. Pietersen was bowled out for a golden duck, very quickly ending his involvement yesterday. To me, it doesn’t seem clear that his priorities lie with his county when he’s earning mega money for the Delhi Daredevils, but hey, who can really blame him?

Yet another snooker championship kicked off yesterday, straight after the Wuxi Classic in China. The Six Red Championship in Bangkok (a limited form of the game involving, you guessed it, six red balls) saw the world’s best players square off in a group format. Holder Mark Selby started well with a 5-1 win over Ruberg, whilst fellow Brits Joe Berry and Dominic Dale were also victorious. Walden, who won the Wuxi last week, lost his first match 5-3. Judd Trump lost his first match before bouncing back, whilst veterans Steve Davis and Jimmy White both succumbed to early losses.

The Volvo Ocean Race, one of the world’s premier sailing events, is drawing to a close and the British contingent continue to have a bad time of it. The Abu Dhabi team, skippered by Ian Walker, finished last although they still have a large points difference over rock-bottom Team Sanya. Team Telefonica, containing Watch Leader Neal McDonald, came fourth but the current league standings mean they can still finish second, however unlikely.

In Rugby League, Widnes leapfrogged London Broncos after walloping fellow strugglers Castleford 40-10.

Sheffield man Jonathan Marray and partner Frederik Nielsen are through to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon after a tough 5-set match that involved three tie-breaks. They will face American James Cerretani and Édouard Roger-Vasselin of France for a place in the semis.

All of Britain’s Speedway hopefuls are out of the running for a place in the World Cup, including a shock exit for Chris Harris. Elsewhere, there were wins for Wolverhampton, King’s Lynn and Eastbourne Speedway sides.

The UEFA Champions League kicks off tonight! Northern Irish side Linfield will begin their assault on Europe at home to Torshavn of the Faroe Islands. Two other matches are taking place. The Europa League Qualifying also begins, although there are no British representatives yet.

Scotland’s basketball side are in action tonight against San Marino. The Scots are 1/4 favourites to win against the European minnows.

About archangelffx

An aging music and sports enthusiast who has nothing better to do but write lists of stuff.
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