WIMBLEDON, England — On Wednesday, Wimbledon picked up where it left off the day before — with outside courts covered in tarps and a steady drizzle falling.
As a brisk and windy summer day dragged on with only small pockets of tennis being played, the most distinctive sounds were the singing chants by the friends and fans of the 772nd-ranked British qualifier, Marcus Willis, who later lost to third-seeded Roger Federer on Centre Court.
Spectators, officials and the players could at least be confident that that match would be played. Centre Court, with its retractable roof, was the one place guaranteed to be filled with the sounds of a racket hitting a tennis ball.
Willis was even spotted in a courtside seat watching top-seeded Novak Djokovic play Adrian Mannarino a few hours before his match. He saw a good show.
Mannarino, with his strong, left-handed serve and crafty net play, stayed close to Djokovic until he was broken at 5-4 of the first set. Playing on his 28th birthday, Mannarino was broken again in the second game of the second set, and Djokovic was well on his way to a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory.
“It was a challenge to play Mannarino on grass, because he has a very good game for this surface,” Djokovic said. “The shots that he comes up with are very flat, and they bounce very low. He picks up the ball very early. Has a very good variety on his serve, slice that fades away from you.”
He added: “It was a very good challenge for me at the right time. I think I came up with the best game when it was most needed in all three sets.”
The win gave Djokovic his 30th consecutive Grand Slam match victory, a record for the Open era, which began in 1968. He holds all four Grand Slam singles titles and is trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a season’s first three majors. Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in both the Australian Open and the French Open this year.
“The record that I managed to break today, yes, is one of the better ones, because, obviously, as a professional tennis player, you always aim to play your best in Grand Slams,” Djokovic said. “You want to be consistent and win as many matches in these tournaments that matter the most in our sport.
“Knowing that I won 30 in a row, it’s very pleasing, obviously. I want to keep on going. Let’s see where it takes me.”
Also on Centre Court, for the women, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska beat Kateryna Kozlova, 6-2, 6-1, and seventh-seeded Belinda Bencic defeated Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-2, 6-3, in first-round matches postponed from Tuesday.
The match between Eugenie Bouchard and Magdalena Rybarikova started on Court No. 12, but it ended on Centre Court with Bouchard winning, 6-3, 6-4.
Not many players on outside courts completed their matches on Wednesday.
In first-round matches that did finish during brief breaks in the rain, No. 8 Dominic Thiem beat Florian Mayer, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; No. 10 Tomas Berdych defeated Ivan Dodig, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (2); and No. 24 Alexander Zverev ousted Paul-Henri Mathieu, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
In the women’s draw, No. 10 Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, defeated Sorana Cirstea, 6-0, 6-4; No. 16 Johanna Konta, the highest-ranked British woman, topped Monica Puig, 6-1, 7-5; and No. 21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 32 Andrea Petkovic closed out victories.
The schedule disruptions at Wimbledon have come after a rainy French Open, during which nearly two full days of play in the second week were washed out.
But rain at Wimbledon is as much a tradition as the all-white outfits and strawberries and cream.
“With all the years on the tour, I mean, you get used to it,” Berdych said.
He added: “No matter if you have to finish for a few points or a set or more, it’s just the same thing. You just have to stay focused and be ready for it as a new match.”
For now, Wimbledon has only one covered stadium. However, a retractable roof is expected to be completed on Court No. 1 in time for the 2019 tournament.
“I was really lucky to play on the Centre today, that’s for sure,” Radwanska said.
The French Open does not yet have a covered stadium. A retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium will be functional for this year’s United States Open. The Australian Open has three stadiums with roofs.
“I know it’s big thing to build a roof,” Radwanska said. “It’s not easy. But, of course, more roofs, better.”
Kvitova watched Radwanska from the locker room, where she was hanging out with other players.
“Sometimes it’s good to catch up when you can’t play,” she said, then added, using a nickname for Radwanska: “We were watching Aga playing on Centre Court. We were very jealous that she can play and not us.”
By the end of the day, 30 second-round matches, including those involving No. 2 Garbiñe Muguruza, No. 4 Angelique Kerber and No. 8 Venus Williams, were suspended or postponed. Many first-round matches were still half-finished or not yet started.
Djokovic and Federer, by virtue of playing on Centre Court, were already into the third round. Twelve men, including No. 18 John Isner of the United States, and 16 women had not even made it through the first round.
With the schedule so backed up, tournament officials announced that the first round of the men’s doubles event would be best of three sets, not best of five.