April 18, 2016
No one is going to deny that Wimbledon’s Centre Court is unbeatable for history, tradition and glamour. But if it’s dramatic on-court tension you’re after, Court One is often the place to be.
Take a look at Wimbledon 2015 and you’ll see what we mean.
Men’s quarter-finals day saw many of the most memorable moments played out on No1. Hollywood’s Bradley Cooper prove that the biggest stars aren’t just drawn to Centre Court. And how richly rewarded he and the other enthusiastic fans in the 11,000-plus crowd on No1 were. The impeccable Roger Federer shone first to defeat Gilles Simon in straight sets. Then came one of the best matches Wimbledon and Court One have ever seen.
French Open champion Stan Wawrinka was expected to defeat Richard Gasquet but was edged out in a classic final set. The Frenchman finally triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
It was incredible entertainment and remarkably this wasn’t the first time at Wimbledon 2015 that Court One had been treated to some of the most dramatic tennis.
In the previous round, heavy tournament favourite Novak Djokovic was two sets behind and looked down and out after losing the first two breakers 6-8. Back stormed the feisty Serb to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-4.
The fifth and final set couldn’t be played that night because it was 9 pm and almost dark. So back came the two gladiators battle it out in the decider. Won 7-5 by Djokovic after more nervous moments.
It’s true that Court One is currently still at the mercy of the weather and light, although they disrupt matches more rarely than you might think – and often add to the drama when they do.
The next three summers will be the last during which the elements can play a significant part, because a retractable roof is due to be added to Court One by 2019.
But in 2015 no fewer than sixteen matches involving a top-five seeded player were played on Court One.
The atmosphere on No1 is generally more relaxed, the focus is on the tennis.
You can still happily meet up with pals who have Centre Court tickets in The Renshaw Restauran. Court One debenture holders can also enjoy the open-air splendour of The Veranda restaurant and The No1 bar, with views across the grounds to die for.
Plenty of other matches on the modern-day Court One, which was opened in 1997, still stick in the memory. In 2008, for example, No1 suddenly filled to the rafters as a 14-year-old, unseeded Laura Robson became the first British junior Wimbledon Champion in 24 years by defeating Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
The following year Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick thrilled Court One with three hours and fifty-one minutes of breath taking sporting combat. Eventually Roddick emerged exhausted and triumphant, though both men received a standing ovation at the end of their marathon 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 slugfest.
The sheer surprise among those who watched Rafael Nadal’s 2013 first-round exit to Steve Darcis by 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 won’t easily be forgotten.
If you can buy tickets for both stadiums it gives you flexibility and the fullest sense of Wimbledon.
Centre Court may be Queen of Glamour and History. But Court One is King of Cool.
You’ll have your own personal favourites. But here are ours…
TOP THREE COURT ONE MOMENTS
1/ Roddick beats Hewitt in five-set epic – 2009
2/ Gasquet defeats Wawrinka in final-set marathon – 2015
3/ Laura Robson wins Junior Wimbledon in packed arena – 2008