Wimbledon are prepared to resist pressure from the likes of Novak Djokovic, to start games earlier on Centre Court.
The Championship has faced criticism for failing to finish its schedule before the 11pm curfew, which has led to leading players on the tour asking why games cannot start earlier to ensure matches are not played across two days.
Wimbledon though is worried about the financial consequences of changing their schedule, which would affect TV deals.
Several of their broadcast agreements are helped by their delayed start times of Centre Court and Court 1 as it creates more matches for prime time TV slots.
The BBC is among those who pay huge sums, but would be entitled to renegotiation if play started earlier, as per the Daily Mail.
The schedule was originally changed as a Covid measure, but has stayed since the end of the pandemic.
The All England Club has agreed a new £60m-a-year deal with the BBC which will run until 2027 as well as a £400m contract covering north America with ESPN – both of whom could demand rebates if the play times were significantly changed.
BBC sources would be willing to accept a slightly earlier time of 1pm, currently it stands at 1.30pm, but anything before that would require a major renegotiation.
Andy Murray’s second round match on the first Thursday of the tournament ended up running into Friday.
He had led 2-1 before the match was stopped, only to lose in a five-set thriller on the Friday. Djokovic too had to return on Monday having failed to complete his Sunday night match against Hubert Hurkacz – eventually winning in four sets.
He, along with both Murray brothers, has called for a change, but that looks set to be ignored.
The Serbian said: “Obviously curfew is probably something that is much more difficult to change, I understand, because of the community and the residential area we are in. I think the matches could be pushed at least to start at 12:00. I think it would make a difference.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion went on to add: “Even though it was nice for us to get a chance in the last couple of years to practice on the Centre Court before the tournament starts, I have to say I’m not a fan of that. I would rather have no practice at all on the Centre Court before the tournament starts.
“I think that would help the court. It also is the most sensitive surface we have in the sport. So you can feel the grass wearing out even after few practice sessions already, getting the beating from the sliding and running and so forth.”
The 11pm curfew was introduced in 2009 after the roof was built on Centre Court. Merton Council only allowed the roof to be built if Wimbledon chiefs agreed to the curfew.
“The 11pm curfew is a planning condition applied to balance the consideration of the local residents with the scale of an international tennis event that takes place in a residential area,” read a statement from Wimbledon in 2018. “The challenge of transport connectivity and getting visitors home safely is also a key consideration.”