Rafael Nadal's camp has continued its attack on Wimbledon organisers after his fourth round five-set defeat to Gilles Muller was played away from Centre Court. Venus Williams, defending champion Andy Murray and Roger Federer headlined the main venue at the All-England Club on Manic Monday (10 July), meaning Nadal's last 16 clash with Muller was forced onto Court One.
In the wake of his surprising defeat to Muller, with the Luxembourgish 16th seed prevailing 15-13 in the fifth set of the longest match of the tournament so far lasting nearly five hours, the two-time champion criticised the decision to relegate him to the second show court at SW19. Two of Nadal's previous three matches had been on Centre, yet he was overlooked by the schedulers.
And his uncle Toni Nadal has now weighed in on the controversy and suggested that should Wimbledon – part of the tennis calendar since 1877 – have ambitions of being regarded as the best grand slam in the calendar, it must rotate the players chosen to play on its main court.
"Wimbledon wants to be the best tournament but sometimes it does small tournament things, favouring more of the account according to which players," he said, according to AS. "In Roland Garros Nadal is almost always favourite but he does not always play on the central court."
Both Federer and Murray, who have between them appeared in the last five finals, have played all of their matches in the 2017 tournament on Centre. The scheduling of the matches in the women's draw has come in for particular criticism, with the main two show courts dominated by male players.
WTA world number one Angelique Kerber was forced to play her defeat to Garbine Mugurza on Court Two for the second round in a row and has led the complaints over the decision to seemingly give preference to the men's draw. In the opening seven days of competition, 14 matches from the men's singles draw have been staged on Centre Court, while only eight have come from the women's section.
Speaking after the three-set defeat to the 2016 French Open champion, the German said: "To be honest, I was really surprised that I was playing on Number Two Court. I think we both played a good match which was at a very high level. And I was actually really looking forward to playing on one of the two big courts.
"I mean, what can I say? This is the schedule and it is not my decision at the end of the day. It is a decision made my others. At the end I have to take the court I get scheduled on. But of course I was surprised."
But AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said the big names contained within the men's draw means the tournament is forced to move the women's matches to small courts. "You've got four of the all-time great male players: Rafa, Roger, Novak [Djokovic] and Andy. You're left with some difficult choices," he told reporters.
"We absolutely respect that Angelique is number one in the world, Muguruza is a former finalist, a Grand Slam winner. It was a tough decision. But we are spoilt for choice. There are matches on Courts Two and Three that would grace Centre on any other day."