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Monday, 10 July 2017 21:00 PM BST
'Strawberry Man' returns as Rufus
Last year, Chris Fava was 'Strawberry Man'. Has he trumped that in 2017? READ MORE

Sipping from his carton of cream on Centre Court, Chris Fava is easily the most recognised giant strawberry at the All England Club in recent years.

But with his signature outfit now part of the Wimbledon Museum, the designer and tennis fan has had to come up with a new costume to stand out from the crowd.

Again, he is chanelling a quintessential piece of Wimbledon, this time as Rufus the hawk, the official pigeon scarer for Centre Court.

The outfit even comes with a customary “pigeon patrol” bag – emblazoned with the words “scaring birds since 2000” – and a plush pigeon.

“Strawberry Man will still be around but I wanted to introduce a new costume,” Fava said.

“I knew I had a lot of points to defend from last year because Strawberry Man was such a big hit that I wanted to do something that was iconic and Rufus is probably an icon already. I knew I needed to do something special. I knew I wanted it to be Wimbledon-centric. I took about two months to do the costume … Everyone’s reaction when I’m here is really cool."


He’s the umpire instantly identifiable for his deep dulcet tones, the Barry White of tennis. But on Monday, it was Kader Nouni’s on-court gesture rather than his on-court calls, which had the crowd cheering its approval. With Garbiñe Muguruza serving at 2-2 in the second set against Angelique Kerber, a ball boy, feeling the effects of a muggy London day, needed to take a seat behind the baseline. Nouni promptly climbed down from his chair and jogged down to assist the young man from the court, drawing a big cheer from the No.2 Court crowd. Above and beyond the call of duty, Kader.


Kerber’s defeat by Muguruza means the German will lose the WTA No.1 ranking next Monday and there will be a new queen at the top. The battle is between Karolina Pliskova or Simona Halep, depending how the Romanian does against Johanna Konta after dispatching Victoria Azarenka. Win, and Halep’s place in a second Wimbledon semi-final will guarantee her ascent to the No.1 ranking; lose to Konta, and Pliskova will go top. But having been on the verge of the No.1 ranking in the past, Halep is doing all she can to ignore the hype. She has a quarter-final to win, a Grand Slam title to chase.

“Is going to be one match,” said Halep, who was not aware of the significance of the quarter-final until told by a member of the press. “We will see tomorrow. Is not an easy one. I'm not thinking about that because I was in that situation one more time. So I feel that I have more experience and I hope I will not think that much during the match. I just want to go there and to win it.”


To say Rafael Nadal is a creature of habit is an understatement. With his water bottle alignment, his sprint from the coin toss, and his underwear adjustments, the many and varied idiosyncrasies of his on-court persona are famous the world over. But less well known – or at least, less often observed – are his pre-match rituals, typically done before the cameras fixate upon the players. There are the sprints in the locker room as he revs himself up, the regripping of his six rackets, and finally, just before the players step out on court, a series of kangaroo jumps before he walks out on court.

And so it was today, as Nadal lined up behind Gilles Muller before the four-hour, 48-minute epic on No.1 Court. Nadal put down his bag and racket, and launched into his first leap – right beneath the door frame. A loud thud, a string of confused expressions and a sheepish grin from the Spaniard and Luxembourger followed.


Rafa wasn’t the only player in the wars on Manic Monday. Taking a body blow is to be expected in doubles but when an opponent unintentionally clocks the ball at your groin region it can make your life flash before your eyes. Austrian Oliver Marach found out the hard way in his third-round doubles match on Saturday. He and Croatian Mate Pavic were on their way to a straight-sets dismissal of Brits Jay Clarke and Marcus Willis when the knock to the nether region took place. Clarke slapped away an easy smash at net but Marach was unable to get out of the firing line quick enough, dropping to ground in agony as the three players and the umpire raced to his aid.

“It’s good I have two kids,” he joked, drawing a big laugh from the Court 14 crowd.

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