WIMBLEDON, England — The developments at Wimbledon on Wednesday included Novak Djokovic joining Roger Federer and Serena Williams as the only players in tennis history to win 350 Grand Slam matches; a runner-up two years ago, Karolina Pliskova, exiting in the first round against a qualifier; a player seeded No. 8, Maria Sakkari, taking the opening set 6-0 but managing to lose.
Ho-hum. Those turned out to be among the least unusual happenings around the All England Club on Day 3 of this year’s tournament. That’s because so much of the buzz around the place concerned protests and, yes, rain.
Three environmental activists were arrested for interrupting matches by making their way onto court to toss orange confetti — hidden in boxes for 1,000-piece Centre Court puzzles sold at the tournament merchandise shops — and attract attention to an anti-oil organization.
“We’ve had enough disruptions with the weather,” four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman, a member of the board at the All England Club, said on the BBC broadcast, “but to get a disruption like that is disappointing.”
The showers that were so problematic on Tuesday returned Wednesday, limiting the hours available for competition and making everyone wait and wait and wait.
“Today was a bit weird in the beginning, because there was supposed to be no rain, then it started raining,” said No. 6 Holger Rune, who eliminated British wild card entry George Loffhagen 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2 in a first-rounder that was originally supposed to be held Tuesday. “It was a little bit frustrating at the end.”
Consider: While four players who got to play at the two arenas with retractable roofs already are into the third round, including Djokovic and the No. 1 woman, Iga Swiatek, there remain 14 entrants who have yet to contest a single point in the first round. That latter group includes 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev and Karolina Muchova, who lost to Swiatek in last month’s French Open final.
“For sure, it’s really comfortable,” Swiatek said after beating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 6-0 at Centre Court. “I’m happy that my matches were scheduled under the roof, so I always was certain that it’s going to actually happen. It’s a little bit easier to prepare knowing that.”
The others moving into the third round were Jannik Sinner and Daria Kasatkina.
Djokovic, owner of a men’s-record 23 Grand Slam trophies, was two points from dropping the second set against Jordan Thompson before sealing that tiebreaker with an ace, then jutting his right index finger against his temple while strutting to the sideline along the way to winning 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
Seeking a record-tying eighth Wimbledon championship, and record-tying fifth in a row, he was on Centre Court — where he’s won 41 times in a row — and so did not need to deal with the sorts of stops and starts endured by players such as Americans Taylor Fritz, the No. 9 seed, and Frances Tiafoe, who is No. 10.
Fritz’s first-round match against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany was suspended midway through the fifth set all the way back on Monday and never resumed Tuesday. So Fritz did a lot of stewing until he finally was able to get back on No. 2 Court to wrap up his 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 triumph.
“It’s tough to kind of just be sitting on that, thinking about it for like two days. You’re potentially (with) 15 minutes left in a match at the very end of it, and for it to be a Grand Slam, fifth set, it kind of adds to it,” Fritz said. “I spent most of the time sitting on the bench near my locker in the locker room, just like on my phone, like YouTube videos, whatever. Just killing time.”
Tiafoe seemed a lot less fussed.
He and Wu Yibing of China were originally due to play Tuesday, but began Wednesday. Tiafoe won 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s just laughable stuff,” Tiafoe said. “I ate a little bit, listened to music, cracked jokes with other players. There’s not really much to do. It’s not like I can go catch a movie or something. I mean, there’s not much going on. Just chilling, honestly.”
One of the highlights of Tuesday’s schedule — 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem vs. two-time major finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas — got through just 1 1/2 sets that afternoon and so turned into one of the highlights of Wednesday’s schedule.
Wound up going five sets and nearly four hours on No. 2 Court before Tsitsipas delivered one last forehand winner to close out his 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (10-8) win.
“It was pretty stressful,” said Tsitsipas, who plays Andy Murray on Thursday. “I won’t lie.”