The 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will surely be relieved that increasing darkness forced her third round encounter with the No.25 seed Ekaterina Makarova to be suspended overnight.
From a winning position a set and a break up, she surrendered eight games in a row to lose the second set and hand over a break in the third.
By the time the players were obliged to leave No.1 Court at 8.50pm, Makarova was leading 3-6, 6-2, 2-1, giving Kvitova all too much food for thought before this battle of the left-handers is played to a finish on Saturday.
The match was only 17 minutes old and poised at 3-3 in the first set when the players were forced off court for rain.
Up to that moment Kvitova, the No.8 seed, had yet to earn so much as a single point on her opponent’s serve, but when they came back two hours later she was transformed – serving better, returning better, producing winners. She reeled off five games in a row to take the set and capture a break in the second.
All the momentum was with her and the match seemed as good as done.
But in 2013 Kvitova has developed an unhappy habit of playing three-setters. She did it in the first round here against Coco Vandeweghe, the world No.108.
Her second round was a walkover when Yaroslava Shvedova pulled out injured, but she contrived to make this third round match the 21st three-setter of her season to date.
At 2-0 to Kvitova in the second, there followed a ten-minute game as Makarova pulled off a battling hold of serve, and there was no stopping her.
She took the set 6-2, and broke at once in the third. Reaching the third round meant 2013 was already the Russian’s most fruitful Wimbledon in six attempts, but her eyes are on greater things still.
Kvitova was playing with an extraordinary amount of flesh-coloured tape on the back of her right thigh, behind and around her right knee, and behind her right Achilles – the leg she pushes off for service.
Makarova was also playing with a heavy strapping on her right thigh, so presumably neither of them enjoyed playing in the rapidly cooling conditions as night fell.
But all the momentum was with two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Makarova, and it is she who will wish the match could have been played to a conclusion.
Kvitova at least now has time to think her way out of the problem, if she can.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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