LONDON – Wimbledon chiefs insisted again Monday that the men's final will start at its traditional time despite it clashing with a potential England World Cup triumph.
The All England Club has come under increasing pressure to rethink its 2pm (1300GMT) start time for Sunday's men's singles final with the football showpiece in Moscow kicking off at 4pm in the UK (1500GMT).
Should England defeat Croatia in Wednesday's semi-final then the national team will feature in a World Cup final for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1966.
“It is purely our decision to stay at 2pm. It will stay this year, it will stay next year,” said All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis.
He added that there were no plans to show either Wednesday's semi-final or Sunday's final at the World Cup on Wimbledon's giant TV screen attached to one of the sides of Court One.
Last Saturday, England made the semi-finals with victory over Sweden as action at Wimbledon took place.
“Saturday was one of the most special days I can remember at the championships. The tennis was very good and there as an historic football match going on,” added Lewis. “People followed the football on their devices thanks to modern technology without disturbing other spectators. You can tell when England scored and it was wonderful but we didn't receive any complaints that the enjoyment of tennis had been spoiled.”
“I am sure the same again will happen on Wednesday -- and hopefully on Sunday.”
He added: “People get Wimbledon and we get the balance right.”
Lewis has become exasperated by stories that the All England Club has been indifferent to the national wave of affection which has engulfed Gareth Southgate's football team.
“We have a very strong public wi-fi signal and it worked brilliantly on Saturday,” he said. “That indicates that we are supportive of the World Cup and that we are not turning down the signal strength!
“We are a tennis tournament but we are aware that there is something special going on elsewhere.”
“I have met Gareth Southgate, he's a great guy. Jeremy Dier (the father of England star Eric Dier) is a member of the club. I have known Eric since he was a teenager.”
Should England make the final on Sunday, it's possible that the men's final may not be even over -- especially if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal involved.
Ten years ago, Nadal triumphed over his great rival in a five-set epic which ended at 9.16pm (2016GMT).
Agence France-Presse (AFP)