Nadal-Djokovic Wimbledon thriller cut short after 3 sets because of controversial stadium curfew

Michael Steele/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal reacts as he loses the third set against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day 11 of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships .

  • Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s semifinal Wimbledon match was cut off immediately after the third set because of a stadium curfew.
  • The match was pushed back because John Isner and Kevin Anderson previously played a marathon match that lasted over six hours.
  • Nadal and Djokovic will have to resume their match on Saturday before the winner will play Anderson in the final on Sunday, meaning one of Djokovic or Nadal will not be well-rested heading into the final.

A thrilling Wimbledon semifinal match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was cut short on Friday because of the stadium curfew.

Because of the marathon match between John Isner and Kevin Anderson earlier in the day, Djokovic and Nadal got off to a late start. ESPN’s commentators warned during the match that the stadium would be enforcing the strict 11 p.m. curfew.

After splitting the first two sets, Djokovic and Nadal played to a tiebreaker in the third set. While Isner-Anderson was a grinding, serve-heavy match between two big-hitters, Djokovic and Nadal was perhaps a bit more artful, with both players showing off their impeccable footwork, speed, returns, and flare in an entertaining duel.

Djokovic eventually took the tiebreaker 11-9, promptly at 11 p.m. local time, when Wimbledon officials suspended play.

Few were happy. Some members of the crowd booed, while John McEnroe, calling the match, had earlier referred to the curfew as “absurd,” noting players won’t be any happier about being forced into a second day.

The suspension of the match has potentially big ramifications. Djokovic and Nadal will have to play out their match, which could go two more sets, then one of them will play in the final on Sunday against Anderson. It may level the playing field slightly, as Anderson had to slog through a six-hour match against Isner, will at least have Saturday off.

The suspension may also affect the timing of the matches already scheduled for Saturday. Serena Williams is set to play Angelique Kerber in the women’s final on Saturday. According to reports, Djokovic and Nadal will have the choice to play before or after the women’s final, potentially throwing a loop in everyone’s schedule.

Calls for fifth-set tiebreakers only grew louder after the suspension of Nadal-Djokovic, as the match was pushed back because Isner and Anderson’s match went so long as they played out the fifth set.

After a controversial semifinal round for the men, it’s possible Wimbledon may be making some policy changes.

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