LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02: Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during practice ahead of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 2, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Joel Drucker: The Middle of the Journey

Call the tennis-free middle Sunday of Wimbledon a genuine intermission, a respite for players, fans and all who work at Wimbledon a moment to pause.

Sunday at Aorangi Park, there were plenty of players engaged in practice sessions. But gone was the frantic energy of the start, of dozens of bodies milling, of racquet bags and coaches, parents and equipment reps, of players striking furiously and shuttling in and out of practice sessions like some kind of bus terminal. Aorangi instead was an airline lounge on a late night; quiet and subdued, pruned to the essential passengers who had arrived from a distant spot and now knew that the next flight would be the one that could take them to their desired destination.

“Trust me Andre, trust me,” said Novak Djokovic as he played points versus a left-handed practice partner, in preparation for his round of 16 match versus Adrian Mannarino. But Djokovic said this with a grin and a laugh. He was at the mid-point here, comfortably removed from the perils of an early round exit (Djokovic had lost in the third round last year), but also not quite near those tension-laden semis and finals that define a legacy. But even then, even at that stage, a different spirit pervades these grounds.

Anyone who picks up a racquet dreams of playing Wimbledon. But the first week is just a mass of bodies, matches, personnel shuffling in and out. To have reached the second week puts one in rare air. There was something tranquil about that middle Sunday, when all was poised, Wimbledon delicate and peaceful – a blissful starting point for entering high-stakes combat.

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