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Roof closed for first time as rain arrives

WIMBLEDON finally got to show off its new multi-million dollar Centre Court roof today as weather threatened to disrupt play at the grasscourt championships.

Residents of the leafy south west London suburb flung open their curtains to the first sight of light rain after four days of uninterrupted tennis and glorious sunshine at the All England Club.

The roof was closed at 2000 GMT last night, the huge trusses and flexible fabric covering taking around eight minutes to close from the moment the switch was flicked.

"It was a measure to protect the grass from any rain and the roof was closed all night," a spokeswoman for the club said.

The roof has not been used fully since the tournament started though the unexpected sunbursts have seen organisers close the roof by some six feet to give some sun protection to the great and the good sitting in the Royal Box.

Groundsmen continued their work as normal under the surreal morning gloom under the enclosed roof, one mowing the hallowed turf in straight lines with incredible precision. Covers were also on all the outside courts.

The forecast predicted a frustrating day ahead with 'a moderate risk (40 percent) of some heavy and thundery showers passing over the area during the late morning and through the afternoon'.

Roger Federer could be the first to see competitive action in the enclosed arena he has graced so successfully over the years, the five-time champion opening play against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in his third-round clash.

Tournament referee Andy Jarrett will make a decision on the roof and any amendments to play 45 minutes before the 1100 GMT scheduled start.


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