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21 Jul 2019 9:53
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Tennis

    Ashleigh Barty's Wimbledon scheduling causes stir as Rafael Nadal defends organisers

    Ashleigh Barty's fourth-round match was overlooked for Wimbledon's Centre Court despite her billing as women's world number one, as 18-time major winner Rafael Nadal says he deserves to play on the showpiece court.

    Rafael Nadal has suggested his career achievements meant he deserved to play on Wimbledon's Centre Court ahead of women's world number one Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round, as he defended the tournament's scheduling of matches.

    The issue of how the scheduling of men's and women's matches on Centre Court is decided has been raised at Wimbledon, with Serena Williams saying "women's matches aren't pushed as much as the men's matches" when it came to playing on the marquee courts.

    Barty played only once on the main court prior to exiting the tournament in the fourth round on Monday night (AEST).

    Her third-round match against Harriet Dart, which she won 6-1, 6-1, was played on Centre Court but her other three fixtures took place on outside courts.

    Nadal, who beat Joao Sousa in straight sets on Centre Court the same day Barty lost to Alison Riske on Number 2 Court in the fourth round, declined to take sides in the scheduling debate.

    But he said Wimbledon organisers were under pressure when it came to scheduling matches while highlighting his standing as an 18-time major winner meant he had a legitimate claim to play on the tournament's showpiece court.

    "My answer is not 'no' or 'yes'," Nadal told a Wimbledon media conference when asked if organisers had got the scheduling right.

    My answer is they [organisers] make a decision. You [reporter] are putting Ashleigh Barty in front of me. For me, both decisions are good.

    "In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am a little bit more than Ashleigh Barty, even if Ashleigh Barty is the first player of the world and she already won the French Open and she is playing unbelievably good.

    "But we can't create polemics every single day about decisions that they [organisers] have to take. At the end of the day, they have to make a decision."

    Nadal pointed out he had played on an outside court earlier at this year's tournament, as well as at the French Open, which he won for a record 12th time last month.

    "A day like today everybody is playing, of course [Novak] Djokovic is not playing in the Centre Court," he said.

    "For me the first day I have been playing in the court one. I played in Suzanne Lenglen [the French Open's secondary court] in Roland Garros, if I'm not wrong, in the second round.

    "Every day is a decision. We cannot create polemics about that. Court number two, OK, they have to make decisions. Today they probably decided that. They have other girls playing on the Centre Court now."

    Barty unfazed by scheduling debate

    Barty, speaking after her loss to Riske, said she was not bothered by decisions made around scheduling.

    "Scheduling is out of my control," the French Open champion said.

    "I'll play on any court I'm scheduled on. I think obviously scheduling is very difficult. There are so many incredible matches all the fans and all the people want to watch, and players want to be a part of."

    Barty said it made no difference to her what court she played on at Wimbledon.

    "For us, the tennis court is the same size," Barty said.

    "The surroundings change, yes. They're a little bit different.

    "No matter what court you're scheduled on, it shouldn't matter how you approach the match or play. It certainly doesn't for me."

    Barty had also refused to take part in last week's furore over Channel Seven's decision to broadcast the Nick Kyrgios versus Jordan Thompson match ahead of the start of her first-round encounter.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

     Other Tennis News
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     13 Jul: Novak Djokovic to defend his title at Wimbledon
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     11 Jul: It's women's semi finals day at Wimbledon tonight
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