Andy Murray takes cover as Wimbledon faces washout
The bottom half of the women's draw has been devastated after world number two Victoria Azarenka withdrew with a knee injury and world number three, Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, slumped to shock defeat against Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher De Brito.
Andy Murray takes centre stage under the Centre Court roof at a rain-hit Wimbledon on Friday as the tournament continued to reel from the shock exits of its A-list stars.
Murray, the second seed and looking to become Britain's first men's champion since 1936, faces Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo on Centre Court hoping to seal a place in the last 16.
The world number two is in the bottom half of the draw which has seen seven-time champion Roger Federer, reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal, dangerous sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 10th seed Marin Cilic all depart.
As a result, 15th seeded Nicolas Almagro is Murray's closest rival in ranking terms, but the Spaniard has never got beyond the third round at the All England Club.
Murray's opponent Robredo has also never managed to reach the second week.
"Everybody was so obsessed with how the draw was before the tournament started. Now everybody wants to change their views on it because a few guys have lost," Murray said.
"Upsets happen every single day. You can't take any matches for granted. People want to do that often and just write people through to finals or semi-finals or whatever. But it doesn't work that way.
"You need to be ready for every match. That's just the way that sport is."
The bottom half of the women's draw has been similarly devastated after world number two Victoria Azarenka withdrew with a knee injury and world number three, Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, slumped to shock defeat against Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher De Brito.
The highest-ranked player left in that section is the 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, seeded eighth, who faces Ekaterina Makarova, the Russian 25th seed, for a place in the last 16.
Larcher De Brito faces Italy's Karin Knapp, while former finalist Marion Bartoli, the 15th seeded Frenchwoman, tackles Italy's Camila Giorgi.
However, with heavy rain forecast to fall until around 1500GMT, it seems likely that only the covered Centre Court will see action from the scheduled start time.
The programme for the main arena reflects the star-stripped nature of the tournament after Federer and Nadal's premature exits.
Britain's Laura Robson opens proceedings against Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino, Murray closes against Robredo while Almagro against big-hitting Pole, Jerzy Janowicz, is sandwiched in between.
Official crowd figures have also dipped on three of the four days so far.
On Thursday, 41,661 fans watched the action compared to the 44,341 for the corresponding day in 2012.
A spokeswoman for the All England Club said that was due to what she described as the "Murray effect" in that the great British hope played his second round match on the first Thursday in 2012.
Fewer people were recorded also on Wednesday -- 41,143 compared to 43,044 twelve months earlier although this shortfall is believed to be down to fewer ticket resales inside the grounds.
"Crowd figures are notoriously unreliable. We are always full," said the spokeswoman.
The scheduling problems caused by rain should be eased slightly by 2019 when a roof will also be built on Court One.
Rain late on Thursday prevented eight second round matches from being completed.
One of the most intriguing saw unseeded Slovenian Grega Zemlja take a 9-8 final set lead over Bulgarian 29th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Zemlja needed a doctor on court on Thursday to examine his irregular breathing while Dimitrov, watched from the Court Three stands by girlfriend Sharapova, required treatment on his left ankle after slipping and falling.