The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club applied the Law of Old Trafford last night, or was it early this morning, by playing on until the home favourite won.
For Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet that meant taking their titanic fourth round clash into a fifth set and long into a chilly Centre Court night.
Gasquet, or the Bottle Dropper as he will from henceforth be known, was eventually allowed off court at 9.31pm but not before his Wimbledon challenge had been engulfed in darkness and shouted down by a febrile home crowd.
For Murray, the only Briton left in the championship, the significance of reaching the first Grand Slam quarter final of his career was almost lost in the euphoria, or was it hysteria, of his 5-7, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
It was only the second time he has come back from 2-0 down and his performance oscillated from tepid at one extreme to boiling hot at the other. His comeback, however, was the stuff of Wimbledon folklore. He has installed himself in the hearts of the nation and also justified in one match why players wear white when they’re here.
Gasquet was supreme for the first two hours. Winners rained from his racket and Murray was visibly overawed by his big-hitting opponent and the grandeur of the occasion.
The eighth seed, stood on the brink of booking an audience with Rafael Nadal and Murray’s challenge, blocked returns, short serves and idiotic drop shots was the very definition of anti-climatic.
But at 4-5 down in the third set and his opponent serving for the match Murray somehow managed to produce three break points, the third of which produced a double fault from Gasquet and the Scot’s first break of the match.
Once in the tie break Murray raced away and holding three set points he ran down a volley at such an acute angle he ended up in the courtside photographers and Gasquet stood agog as the ball flashed past him. The crowd went into meltdown and so did the poor Frenchman.
The rest will be entered into All England history. Darkness swamped Centre Court and it seemed the only person who could see the ball with any reliability was Murray as he held his nerve to take the fourth set and serve out in the fifth.
During the match Gasquet wanted play suspended, after it he refused to hide behind the bad light as an excuse but was clearly not happy.
Many hours before the Briton was embroiled in his Centre Court epic the Roger and Rafa Show looked as though it will run right through to Sunday’s final.
Federer has spent the last week proving reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated and provided further evidence with a nonchalant dismissal of Lleyton Hewitt.
At his peak, earlier in the decade, the pugnacious Australian was renowned for his combative approach and had a reputation as the type of player who could start a fight in an empty convent. It is now difficult to imagine him starting a fight in a boxing ring.
Certainly when his opponent is Federer, who has now beaten him their last 12 meetings. Yet again the five-times champion prevented Hewitt even landing a punch and once he’d won a tight first set tie break, an ace took it 9-7, the result was a mere formality.
An hour later and a 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory have been secured. Federer now faces Mario Ancic on Wednesday. The Croat also fought back from two sets down to beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 13-11 in the decider.
Like Federer Nadal coasted into the last eight. He lost just seven games to Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny. There was a scare for the French Open champion in the first set, though, when he slipped and twisted his left lower leg. The trainer was called and for a time Nadal looked in some discomfort. Restrapped and refocused the No 2 seed blasted into the last eight.
Also through are Rainer Schuettler, who beat Janko Tipsarevic, Feliciano Lopez victor against Marco Baghdatis, Frenchman Arnaud Clement and Marat Safin.