Rain had provided fans with an early warning on Monday when it held up the schedule for some 90-minutes, as it returned with some vengeance on Tuesday forcing the referee to cancel the majority of matches on Tuesday’s Order of Play and suspend 8 which were active on the outside courts.
I like playing these rallies, these battles. I'm really happy we both played a great level in the third set; it was really close. I had to be really focused. I'm really, really happy to get through this round Carlos Alcaraz
But fortunately, with retractable roofs available on Centre and No.1 Courts, play was not halted entirely, on the day that Roger Federer the eight-time Wimbledon champion, was celebrated in the Royal Box in the company of the Club’s patron, the Princess of Wales.
Their Centre Court programme included the ladies’ champion Elena Rybakina opening the defence of her title and the all-British clash between Sir Andy Murray and Ryan Peniston, both matches being reported separately.
A similar split of Ladies and Gents matches were allocated to No.1 Court and ticket holders would have been delighted to note that the top seed, Carlos Alcaraz and Britain’s current No.1 Cameron Norrie, were amongst them.
For many of the spectators, the opportunity of seeing the young Spanish star who, at 20-years of age, was already a grand slam champion and world No.1, was a massive stroke of good fortune.
And they weren’t disappointed for while still relatively inexperienced on grass despite having won Queen’s a week ago, he was full of confidence in his ability and well prepared mentally to face the 36-year-old Jeremy Chardy, a veteran of the Tour who on conclusion of the match, retired from the game.
Despite his greater experience, the Frenchman lacked recent match-play for, after 18-months off the Tour with a knee injury, he has only played 4 matches at tour-level this season since returning at the Australian Open.
Prior to his meeting with Alcaraz, his record showed that he had never beaten a player ranked number one on the six occasions he faced one.
And that record was extended to seven as Alcaraz took him out 6-0 6-2 7-5 providing the packed auditorium with a full display of his powerful game to underline why he has so much appeal for the afficionados of the game.
He dominated the first two sets and held off a strong fightback by Chardy in the third, raising his game at the crucial moment to make his breakthrough and seal an entertaining encounter after one hour and 53-minutes.
“I think I started really well, obviously. But in the third set he found his level, I was in trouble,” Alcaraz reflected.
“I like playing these rallies, these battles. I’m really happy we both played a great level in the third set; it was really close. I had to be really focused.
“I’m really, really happy to get through this round.”
He registered one disappointment – Roger Federer wasn’t present to see him in action.
“After the match I was with the phone checking everything I have, all the stories, all the posts. I saw that Roger Federer was here. I was a little bit jealous,” Alcaraz said in jest.
“Honestly, I want Roger Federer to watch one of my matches obviously. I wish to talk a little bit with him. For me would be amazing.”
Later in the afternoon, and still very much under cover, Cameron Norrie opened his campaign to do better than last year when he made the semi-finals.
On paper and as the 12th seed, no one expected him to have too much trouble to put down the Czech qualifier Tomas Machac and he readily admitted after he secured his second-round place: “It wasn’t quite straightforward. I had to battle hard and it’s nice to get it done, get the first one out the way and start my campaign here.”
His 6-3 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory achieved over two hours and 32-minutes, certainly had the British No.1 digging deep to prevent Machac from actually levelling the match at 2-all, before serving out on his second match point.
The difference in ranking finally prevailed, as both players’ level of fitness were tested with Norrie continuing to play and move with freedom whilst his opponent started to flag. The stats were also favouring Norrie who despite only hitting 8 aces to Machak’s 13, struck more winners (45-39) and made less errors (38-53). He also converted seven breaks having raised 21 chances which reflected his opponent’s fighting qualities.
“The first set, I was just really enjoying it and I played a really good level,” Norrie said. “He played a really aggressive second set and didn’t give me much. I had some chances early on and dropped a little bit, but he was coming forward well and played really aggressive.”
With the rain still keeping the outdoor complex of courts under their covers, and with capacity available on Centre following completion of the original four scheduled matches, the referee called Dan Evans’ suspended match to finish at around half-past-seven.
The British No2 consequently renewed his first-round clash with Quentin Halys, a talented Frenchman, realising he had a mountain to climb from two sets down.
Evans, at 33, has not been enjoying his tennis these last few months and as a consequence, has posted a series of poor results but suddenly, he looked refreshed as he took the game to his opponent and to the delight of the partisan crowd enjoying the extra match, he pulled back a set.
However, that proved to be the full extent of his fightback as he was unable to force the match into a fourth set handing Halys a match-point on a double fault which the Frenchman quickly converted to secure a second-round place 6-2 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4.
“You need to put your game on the court whenever you get a chance in a five-set match, and I didn’t do it for the first two sets. That’s ultimately what let me down,” Evans admitted on the BBC and as it marked his seventh loss in eight matches, added: “Tennis won’t be on my agenda for a little while.
“It’s been a long six months or seven months. It’s important to recharge and get ready for a good swing in America, which I enjoy.”
And so on to Day Three as a catch-up programme begins, providing the rain relents!