Wimbledon diary: mystery of the missing punters heats up | Wimbledon 2022

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No end to fan shortage

The mystery of the missing punters continues. Attendance figures for Wednesday struck another low, with 38,520 people on site. That made it the third day in a row where attendance was the lowest since 2007, at least where rain or Covid haven’t been involved. It signifies something of a worrying trend and it’s not just affecting the show courts. Is it uninterested debenture holders or a shortage of foreign visitors? Is it the cost of living crisis or a lack of Roger Federer? Everyone in and around the courts is speculating while the All England Club stays decidedly silent.

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Another Covid dropout

Covid claimed a third player from the men’s draw on Thursday, with Roberto Bautista Agut dropping out of his second-round match with symptoms he described – reassuringly – as “not very serious”. Wimbledon upgraded their Covid precautions on Monday night, albeit by not very much, mainly concentrating on more cleaning. Masks were to be offered to players too, but from what The Diary’s spies have been observing, very few are choosing to take up the option.

Tennis cashes in

Press releases advertising commercial activities related to sport are not always edifying, but those selling stuff off the back of Wimbledon have a tendency towards the pleasingly surreal. “Game Set Thatch” read one such email on Thursday morning, as it was announced that Pat Cash would be unveiling his new hair plugs in a central London salon next week. “I’m literally blown away,” Cash was quoted as saying by representatives of the salon whose details we appear to have temporarily mislaid. Quite the endorsement, and we look forward to seeing the 1987 men’s champion flying down Church Road like a handful of lawn clippings imminently.

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Pat Cash arrives at Wimbledon.
Pat Cash arrives at Wimbledon ahead of next week’s big reveal. Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images

Hair today, gone tomorrow

More men’s hair news and a reminder to beware the panopticon. During the third-round contest between two hirsute athletes – Stefanos Tsitsipas (ponytail) and Jordan Thompson (moustache) – the editors in charge of TV coverage chose to cut to the crowd. There we found happy fans, conversational fans and, thinking he wasn’t being watched, a dad using his phone as a mirror as he attempted to make sure his combover was in place.

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