Wimbledon roof is the new centre of attention
21:31 GMT, 1 July 2012
The first clause of Wimbledon's published protocol for using the Centre Court roof states: 'The Championships are an outdoor, daytime event.'
That might come as a surprise to anyone who has been there for the last four playing days, when consecutive late finishes have seen matches played indoors under lights in the exhilarating, slightly humid atmosphere of an Olympic swimming event, without the smell of chlorine.
Night light: Baghdatis and Murray played under the roof on Saturday
We might be seeing the event morph into something more like the US Open and there are fears in some quarters that referee Andrew Jarrett, who works in concert with other top All England Club officials, is becoming a bit trigger happy with the roof button.
The fear is that there is some kind of mission creep here.
What started as a thoroughly sensible innovation to guarantee tennis for ticket holders and television companies is rapidly changing the much-cherished nature of the whole tournament.
According to some All England Club members there was widespread displeasure and bewilderment in their plush enclosure at the events of Friday, when the Centre Court remained enclosed the whole day, purely due to the fear of rain, while the rest of the tournament went on happily outside.
Rain pain: Lukas Rosol and Rafael Nadal faced similar conditions
They are not the only ones unhappy.
Some local residents are also concerned that what they thought was going to be an occasional occurrence is now starting to look like a normal reaction to the threat of showers or deteriorating light.
In some of the well-heeled roads up the hill from the Club there is talk of petitions.
And then there are pure sporting considerations.
How fair was it to Rafael Nadal on Thursday night that there was a 35-minute hiatus to his match after the fourth set when he had all the momentum against Lukas Rosol, a player with little five-set experience who appeared to be fading fast
There were still around 25 minutes of light left in which anything could have happened, yet the issue was pre-judged and a rested Rosol came back to blow him away.
Luckily for Wimbledon Nadal, a member and former champion, was remarkably sanguine about it, in the immediate aftermath at least.
He may point out in future that these serial roof closures have not been ordered in the face of any major backlog of matches due to rain.
We arrive in the second week with almost everything on schedule.
More of the roof…
The forecast for the second week does not make for pretty reading – heavy rain and not a lot else.
Heavy rain all day. Temp: 15C
Rain from lunchtime onwards. Temp: 16C
Rain all afternoon, occasional dry spells later in the evening. Temp: 20C
Heavy rain with the chance of a few bright spells. Temp: 19C
Sporadic showers all day. Temp: 19C
Yet there are huge numbers who are relishing the spectacle, not least the TV viewers at home who are delivering more bumper audiences for broadcasters, such as the 8.3 million in Britain who watched Andy Murray fight his way through on Saturday night.
The players, while confused about the
exact guidelines, enjoy performing in that atmosphere and it is obvious
that spectators watching inside the court, with its remarkable
acoustics, are loving the experience, at least at night.
And, let it be said, the job of the
referee and those supporting him is not easy, especially with the
capricious British weather, often having to make ad hoc decisions in a
sport where matches are of an indeterminate length.
The people who worry about the roof are mostly the same as those who are uneasy with the accelerating commercialism of the Championships.
There has always been a cleverly judged, delicate co-existence of ancient and modern at Wimbledon, trying to balance tradition with the material demands of what the public and players expect in the present day.
It pulls the place in different directions and, from the look of last week, modern is winning out.