© Ella Ling

Rafa Nadal

How to cope with a rain delay


How to cope with a rain delay.

If it looks as though there is going to be a long wait, it is important to relax, and to take your mind off the match for a while. When it became clear that last year’s Queen’s Club final was going to be postponed for the day because of the weather, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played a game of table tennis. Murray also suggested that the players should sing karaoke to keep the crowd entertained. It never happened, but he did have some support from Serena Williams, who at the time was bored after her training session in Eastbourne was rained-off: “I love karaoke. Let’s do it on rain delays! What’s your go-to song? I’m in! Let’s go.” Don’t do anything that will use up too much physical or mental energy, but do what you can to avoid anger, boredom and frustration.

Talk to the referee and umpire. Ask them to keep you regularly informed about when you might expect to go on court, and what time they would make a decision about calling off play for the day.

When you know you are about to go on court, immediately try to re-engage mentally before you start play. When a match is split up into chunks, because of the rain, there is a danger that you lose some of your intensity. “The weirdest thing about it,” Tim Henman has recalled of the rain-interrupted semi-final he lost to Goran Ivanisevic at the 2001 Wimbledon Championships, “was that, when we came back for part three, we only ended up playing for 15 or 20 minutes. Usually, when you lose a big match like that, you have been out there for two, three or four hours, and there has been a build-up of adrenalin, tension and emotion. But there wasn’t after 15 or 20 minutes, and it felt so anti-climactic.”

Don’t forget to graze. Don’t have a heavy meal, as you don’t need a second plate of pasta, but you will need some lights snacks to keep you going. Also carry on drinking water.

If there is a mid-match delay, take the opportunity to speak to your coach, friends or family. Probably the best ever use of a rain delay was by Andre Agassi and his coach Brad Gilbert at the 1999 French Open. Agassi, who had found himself two sets down against Ukraine’s Andrei Medvedev, returned to win the title and complete his career grand slam. There was theatre backstage during the first rain delay of the 2008 Wimbledon final. According to Jon Wertheim’s excellent book about the match, Strokes of Genius, Mirka Vavrinec intercepted her boyfriend and future husband and told him sternly: “YOU are Roger Federer.” Federer’s tennis perked up on the resumption and he took the final to a fifth set, though it was Rafael Nadal who went to the Champions’ Dinner that year.