THE days are very long at Wimbledon.
Walk along Church Road towards the grounds after 7am and you’ll meet workers on the All England Club night shift heading home in the opposite direction.
Leave after dark at 10pm and you’ll see the same people busy clearing up and making everything ready for the next day.
Today I shared my tube to Southfields station with a group of revellers returning after a long night out.
By the time I took this photo of a clock outside Centre Court, Wimbledon was already humming with activity.
Middle Saturday always feels special and today is no exception.
Andy Murray is second on Centre in what may be a tricky match against former world No 2 Tommy Haas.
But if the young Scot continues the form he has shown so far, he will be back on Monday to play in the fourth round.
German Haas, 30, has slipped down the rankings thanks to a serious shoulder injury, which has required several operations.
Haas says: “I’m happy that right now I’m injury-free, that I’m capable of playing some of my best tennis, and that it’s at this time here in Wimbledon.”
If you’ve got a ticket for Centre Court today, then you must have done something right in a past life.
First up is women’s second seed Jelena Jankovic, who will be looking to benefit from the exits of both Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova.
She plays Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who is just 17 and of Polish descent.
After Murray comes men’s second seed Rafael Nadal, who has again charmed everyone at SW19.
He’s up against Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer in a rehearsal for tomorrow night’s Spain v Germany Euro 2008 football final.
Rafa is hugely excited about his nation”s soccer success and has sent messages of support to his friend, Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Expect plenty of smiles at Nadal’s post-match press conference.
Middle Saturday is also the day sports and showbiz stars are invited to sit in the royal box.
The list includes Tim Henman, watching his successor as British No 1 on the court he made his own.
He’s joined by football knights Bobby Charlton, Bobby Robson and Geoff Hurst, along with the likes of Lord Seb Coe, Jonathan Edwards, Dame Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Sir Steve Redgrave, Niall Quinn, Alastair Hignell, Danny Cipriani, Jennifer Saunders and not forgetting Sir Terry Wogan.
Away from the impossible glitz and glamour of the royal box, third over on Court 1 is Andy’s brother Jamie, playing in the third round of the men’s doubles.
Today’s photos – taken just before 8am – show, in turn, that clock, the view across Court 14 to Court 1, one of the draw boards by Centre Court and a close up of the flowers on Henman Hill.
*Yesterday’s attendance was 39,982, an increase on 2007 of 1,616.