For a while, it seemed as though Elena Baltacha might simply have been glad that was the case. As the early-evening sun cast its shadow across this smart little sunken bowl in south-west London, at first the Kiev-born Scot and her supporters were simply thankful for small mercies.
At approximately 7.50pm last night, cheers reverberated around the place when the reigning Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova, finally permitted her a game. It should have happened somewhat earlier than that – the Scot spoke of having a "Serena moment" when a premature shout of 'Come on' cost her the opening game of the second set. But, while the 28-year-old had cried tears of joy on Tuesday when her injured body held up long enough to outlast Italy's Karin Knapp, and Fed Cup captain Judy Murray told her she had made the cut for the Olympics, most of this match elicited different emotions – fear and embarrassment at sustaining a dreaded double bagel.
Baltacha revealed that such an outcome would have been a first in her decade-long career, but not for one minute did she start trying to save face rather than save the match.
"Probably the last time I got bagelled was when I was 11 or 12," Baltacha said. "That wasn't a nice feeling. I didn't want that to happen again. I think I have had love and one and love and two, but not love and love. But I didn't think about it. I just thought, I'm going to give it a chance, but she was just too good."
From such small beginnings, however, Baltacha raged against the dying of the light and began to piece together the most unlikely of recoveries. Soon the Kvitova serve had been broken and we had a contest again at 4-3. Baltacha had, after all, beaten the same opponent in Belgium in 2008. But, after a rather ungainly beginning to the defence of her title against Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, Kvitova showed the resolve of a champion to see out matters at 6-4. On yesterday's form – the first set at least – Baltacha sees no reason why Kvitova cannot retain her title.
"In the second set she had a little bit of a dip," she said. "That's when I really tried to get stuck in and managed to climb my way back. I just kind of wish the second set was the first set, and then who knows what could have happened."
At least the Scot has the consolation of returning to SW19 in three weeks' time to be part of Team GB at the London Olympics. "I still can't believe it," she said. "It will be a real kind of pleasure to be back here."
Baltacha had originally been scheduled to close play on Court No.1, but her appearance on Court No.2 was a contingency caused by the overrun of an epic duel in the sun between James Ward, the British No.3, and Mardy Fish, the 10th seed. With Londoner Ward, who has a martial arts expert for a fitness trainer and whose dad drives a black cab, bidding to take the contingent of British men through to the third round at Wimbledon to two for the first time since Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski 10 years ago, it was a match which set pulses racing. This was rather appropriate considering the American had to go in for minor heart surgery as recently as April, after experiencing palpitations when he awoke in a hotel room in Florida and found his heart would not return to its usual rate.
Taking part in this match cannot have been good for his health either, as Ward – a heroic battler against Spain's Pablo Andujar in the first round – again went the distance. Fish took the first and third sets, and served for the fourth at 5-4, but Ward somehow held on to duly take the tie-break 7-3.
The final set went with serve until a tentative eighth game from Ward led him to lose his serve, Fish eventually concluding matters for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6 scoreline with an ace on match point.
"In the end he was just a bit better than me," said Ward. "I'm disappointed. Everyone else seems to be pretty happy. I don't know why."
Another Brit failing, in an admittedly less glorious fashion, to continue her progress through the competition was Anne Keothavong. The British No.1 had gone in with high hopes against Sara Errani, the Italian who finished runner-up at the French Open, but she was even less successful than Baltacha, taking just two games. Heather Watson will tonight hope to fare better on Centre Court against Agnieszka Radwanska, where she will bid to become the first British woman into the fourth round since Sam Smith in 1998.
The Pole has risen to world No.3, despite never having reached a grand slam semi-final, but the 20-year-old from Guernsey is in the form of her life, and is armed with a DVD of her previous match, courtesy of Judy Murray. "I'll be watching that," Watson said. "She's not necessarily the most powerful of the top players, but she's very smart and very physically fit."
Watson, a former US Open junior champion, does have experience of taking on the main seeds on the show courts at grand slams, having last year lost narrowly to Maria Sharapova in the main draw at Flushing Meadows.