WIMBLEDON, England -- There is no truth to the rumor that if the rain continues at Wimbledon, top-ranked Monica Seles, who withdrew with an injury, will be well enough to play. However, the possibility does not seem that far-fetched.
For the third consecutive day, rain hampered play at the 105th Lawn Tennis Championships. Only 18 of the 100 matches scheduled were completed, putting Wimbledon well behind schedule. However, tournament officials said they do not think matches will have to be played Sunday, traditionally an off day, or held over to Monday, July 8.
Among the winners were Jennifer Capriati, Gabriela Sabatini and former Southern Methodist University All-America Richey Reneberg, who upset No. 12 seed Andrei Cherkasov of the Soviet Union, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, in a match held over from Tuesday. It was his first Grand Slam match victory since the 1989 U.S. Open. Also, Gigi Fernandez eliminated women's 10th seed Helena Sukova, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
"I'm glad I'm done because there's only a few guys who played their matches," said Reneberg, who warmed up in the morning but did not begin play until about 7 p.m.
Tournament referee Alan Mills compared the situation to 1985, the worst year in history of delays, when at the end of three days, only 42 matches had been completed. Even then, Wimbledon finished on time. As of yesterday, 46 matches had been completed. On the average, 180 matches are played by the third day, Mills said.
After the third day in 1985, the weather did not get much better but improved markedly in the second week. Since 1919, there have been 11 occasions when play has
been extended beyond the scheduled program. Never has play taken place on the middle Sunday.
The London Weather Center did little to lift the gloom, forecasting "a lot more showers" today.
"Some of them may be heavy and prolonged and there may also be thunderstorms," forecasters said. "The showers are likely to start fairly early in the morning and are unlikely to die out until late evening, so prospects are not good for Thursday."
"An army of helpers is involved and a decision cannot be taken lightly," said Christopher Gorringe, chief executive of the All England Club.
This fortnight approximately 330 umpires, 220 gatemen and security guards, 132 ball boys and girls, 127 honorary stewards, 22 cloakroom attendants, 150 courtesy car drivers, 18 locker room attendants, 10 physiotherapists, six carpenters and 35 maintenance workers are used.
Even if the 128 first-round matches are not completed until Monday, Mills expects the tournament to finish on time.
"What it would mean is players who kept winning would lose rest days in between," he said. "We would obviously run into a backlog of doubles matches."
If Wimbledon today experiences the same kind of weather it did yesterday, Mills said he would recommend that the men's doubles format be reduced from a best-of-five to best-of-three format. There is no chance of that occurring in men's singles. The juniors' and veterans' matches also be could affected.
In hopes of catching up, the club announced play will begin at 11 a.m. on the outside courts and 1 p.m. on Centre Court and No. 1 for the next three days. That was tried yesterday but did not do any good.