By Alison Williams
LONDON (Reuters) – Tomas Berdych called on Tuesday for players to have more say in determining when matches are suspended in fading light after he came close to losing his last 16 match at Wimbledon against fellow Czech Jiri Vesely.
In the end, he won a fifth-set shootout for a 4-6 6-3 7-6(8) 6-7(9) 6-3 victory on Tuesday after the tussle was called off at 9:21 p.m. on Monday when Berdych had squandered his fifth match point in the gloom during a fourth set tiebreak.
A pumped-up Vesely, 22, served his 21st of 26 aces to storm to a 6-1 lead in the breaker in what was the last match in play at the All England Club, with Berdych complaining to the umpire that it was “absolutely ridiculous” to stay on court.
For Berdych, it was a flashback to 2014 when he slumped to a third round defeat by Marin Cilic in a match that ended at 9:38 p.m. – the latest finish at Wimbledon outside of Centre Court.
Such was the level of light on Monday that Berdych, 30, was struggling to see and even the Hawkeye call challenge system had stopped working. Berdych tried, unsuccessfully, to get the match moved to Centre Court to finish it off under the floodlit roof.
“I can’t really see. That’s the fact…,” the 10th seed told reporters after finally completing the last eight line up.
“When the referee calls you that the Hawkeye is not in operation anymore, I don’t know why actually we have to play in that situation when a very accurate machine is not able to operate. I don’t think the human eye can see better than that.”
While Berdych said he was able to get a good night’s sleep and “erase it from my mind” to come back to win the final set, he called for players to have more of a say on the conditions and when to halt play.
“I think we should have definitely some word in that because I think we are the ones who are on the court,” he said. “The decisions are made by people who are sitting at the chair. That’s a bit… unfair in this sense.”
The All England Club was not immediately able to comment.
In his third consecutive major quarter-final, Berdych will play another 22-year-old, Frenchman Lucas Pouille, seeded 32.
Having reached the final six years ago, losing to Rafa Nadal, Berdych was realistic about the differences to his game now. “I’m six years older,” he said, smiling.
(Reporting by Alison Williams; Editing by Ken Ferris)