While rain fell over the rest of the All England Club, the only thing falling over Centre Court was feathers.
On another wet day at Wimbledon on Monday with one more big surprise — top-ranked Maria Sharapova going out in the fourth round — there was another slightly surreal scene at a tournament that had already seen its fair share of them.
A pigeon eager to get out from Centre Court bumped against the closed roof, shedding feathers that drifted slowly down onto grass surface where Victoria Azarenka was in the process of routing Ana Ivanovic.
The second-ranked Azarenka had to interrupt her serve and instead walk around her side of the court picking up the white feathers before carrying on and completing a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
"I just saw some feathers coming down," Azarenka said. "Actually, I don't know how it got there. The roof was closed. It was kind of interesting."
Cue the "Featherer" puns.
Roger Federer had already been out on Centre Court, though, beating Xavier Malisse of Belgium 7-6 (1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. That was before the rain started so there was no roof and no pigeons to deal with — only a bad back that gave the six-time champion a bit of a scare early on. Federer had to leave the court when leading 4-3 for a medical timeout that lasted more than eight minutes as he received treatment on his back.
Aside from a slower serve, he didn't appear hindered by the problem when he came back, and staved off Malisse's comeback attempt by going from 2-0 down to 5-2 up in the fourth set.
"Honestly I'm not too worried," said Federer, who also need treatment on his back during his fourth-round win over Feliciano Lopez in 2003 en route to his first Wimbledon title. "I've had bad backs over the years. They go as quick as they came. But of course I have to keep an eye on it now. Two good nights' sleeps, and I'll be 100 percent on Wednesday. I'm pretty convinced, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to pull out the match the way I did today."
So did Novak Djokovic, who played the late match on Centre Court but got out of there quickly by beating fellow Serb Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in just 90 minutes. Djokovic also had to deal with a feather floating down onto the court.
Just add that to the list of other strange events on Centre Court so far — like Rafael Nadal losing to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round on Thursday, Federer having to rally from two sets down against Julien Benneteau on Friday and organizers allowing play to go on past the 11 p.m. deadline to let Andy Murray serve out his victory over Marcos Baghdatis on Saturday in the latest finish ever at Wimbledon.
After those, Sharapova's loss to 15th-seeded Sabine Lisicki on Court 1 seemed fairly ordinary.
Sharapova will lose her No. 1 ranking after losing 6-4, 6-3 to the hard-hitting Lisicki, and will be replaced by Azarenka or Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Camila Giorgi to reach the last eight.
"She did many things much better than I did today," said Sharapova, who won her first major title here in 2004 at the age of 17. "Of course, I could have done things differently, but not on this particular day."
Kim Clijsters also bowed out in her final Wimbledon. Clijsters is retiring after this year's U.S. Open and went out with a whimper on Court 3 as Kerber overpowered her 6-1, 6-1.
Serena Williams, meanwhile, came through another tough three-setter against Yaroslava Shvedova, who gave the 13-time major champion all she could handle over the last two sets before losing 6-1, 2-6, 7-5. Shvedova became the first woman in the Open era to win a "golden set" in the third round, winning all 24 points of the first set against French Open runner-up Sara Errani. She couldn't quite pull that off against Williams, despite winning the first point.
"I was worried about it," Williams joked. "I just said, 'Serena, just get a point in this set and try to figure it out.' I definitely thought about it."
While the women's fourth round was completed, three men's matches were suspended: American Mardy Fish led Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 1-1; Britain's Andy Murray led Marin Cilic 7-5, 3-1; and Florian Mayer led Richard Gasquet 6-3, 2-1. Two matches never started and will begin Tuesday: American qualifier Brian Baker against Philipp Kohlschreiber, and David Ferrer against Juan Martin del Potro.
While the weather keeps causing trouble for organizers, they received some good news when Rufus the Wimbledon hawk — who is used to patrol skies and deter pigeons from being at the All England Club — was returned after thieves stole it from a car last week.
Perhaps that means the end of feathers littering the courts, even though both fans and players seemed to find them slightly amusing.
"Sometimes it can be annoying when somebody is chewing chips right when you're serving," Azarenka said. "But the feathers, it was fun."
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