LONDON (Reuters) - It was so late and so dark at Wimbledon that even Hawkeye went to sleep. It was just too bad a grumpy Tomas Berdych could not find a way to escape the nightmare scenario as he slumped to a 7-6(5) 6-4 7-6(6) third round defeat by Marin Cilic on Friday.
Nothing went right for the sixth-ranked Czech as he became the highest men’s seed to fall by the wayside in a match that finished at 9.38pm local time - the latest finish at the All England Club outside of Center Court.
Croatia’s Cilic admitted “it was very, very dark in the tiebreak” and Andy Murray observed that he could not “imagine what it was like for them” as he “couldn’t see the ball on the TV”.
Berdych, on the other hand, was angry with the lack of light, angry with a linesman for constantly making the wrong calls and angry that they were forced to play on even though technology had given up the ghost.
“I lost all the will to talk to that guy anymore,” the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up told reporters.
”I saw so many mistakes from him. I ask him (the umpire) three times to change the guy. All he said (was) ‘No, everybody can make mistakes. He’s a great linesman. He’s doing a great job, so give him a chance’.
“I said, ‘all right, give him a chance. It’s your call. I already lost two games (because of the linesman’s wrong calls). Great’,” he added sarcastically.
“Then the end of the match basically there was a third call, and then I look at the line... and there was the same guy. He (the umpire) just put him on another line.”
To make matters worse, when Berdych wanted to challenge the call, he was told that was not an option because Hawkeye had stopped working due to the gathering gloom.
“He (the umpire) just told me, Hawkeye doesn’t work because it’s too dark. If... some machine doesn’t work because we don’t have enough light, then why do we have to play?” questioned Berdych.
“I didn’t even have the energy to talk to him when we should stop... I just lost all the will to talk to him anymore.”
Berdych had some sympathy from champion Murray, who has enjoyed some late-night blockbusters at Wimbledon that have stretched on till 11pm local time but at least those were under a floodlit closed Center Court roof, rather than on Court Three.
“From a player’s perspective, when the light starts to go, it’s tough to play good tennis, to play properly,” said the third seed.
”I don’t think you want matches to be decided on someone shanking a ball because they can’t see it. You want players to be able to play their best tennis for as long as possible.
“If it was too dark to see, then they should have stopped.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury