LONDON (AFP) - Lleyton Hewitt launched a scathing attack on ATP Tour officials after the Australian paid the price when heavy rain caused scheduling chaos at Queen's Club.
Hewitt's semi-final against defending champion Marin Cilic at the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event had been severely disrupted by the weather, with the start delayed for two hours before another downpour kept them off court for a further two hours.
When the rain finally relented late in the day, tournament officials took the controversial and unusual decision to switch Hewitt and Cilic off the main show-court and onto Court One.
The move was taken to ensure both semis would be completed by the end of the day and also to guarantee the sell-out 7,000 crowd on the show-court would get to watch British number one Andy Murray in his semi against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Hewitt, a four-time Queen's champion, was eventually beaten 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and the former world number one responded by taking out his frustration on the tournament chiefs.
"It was all weird. We were getting ready to play on centre court again, then we saw the covers coming off and all of a sudden we got told we could be moving to Court One by an ATP guy," Hewitt said.
"It's really strange. I think the ATP guy really panicked under pressure.
I've played two matches in one day, semi and final here, in the past.
"I was disappointed. To play a semi-final on a tour event, especially one like this, on Court One in front of a few people is not the ideal situation that you want to play in."
Hewitt insisted he would have been happy to start his match on Court One to keep the tournament on track, but he grew angry when it appeared organisers were responding to changing weather forecasts, which weren't guaranteed to prove accurate.
"I said, 'We can't just go on forecast the whole time', because two days ago we got told we probably wouldn't get any matches in for the day, and we had a full day's play and got back on track in the tournament," Hewitt added.
"So I think he has to take the blame for a lot of it, because there hasn't been another drop of rain since.
"If you're going to go on a weather forecast, then, yeah, you should have probably scheduled us at the same times and we would have been happy to play on Court 1.
"Then they change the whole schedule and put you on a different court to what you started on, which was ridiculous." World number two Murray, who reached his third Queen's final with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win, admitted he felt sorry for Hewitt.
"For the person that loses that match it's not a good situation to be in.
Once you start a match, especially a semi-final, you're going to want to finish on that court," Murray said.
"Lleyton is a great player. So I think for him it was obviously a tough situation.
"From the players' perspective, it's not so much that was the decision that was made, it was more that it kind of happened really quickly, and I think that's why the frustration was there.
"It's a no-win situation really." Queen's officials insisted the decision was correct because it was important to keep the Murray match on the bigger court for safety reasons.
"Once the weather interruptions delayed us to a point where we felt we had insufficient light to complete them both on the same court, we opted to move one of them," a tournament spokesman said.
"The health and safety of the players is our first consideration in situations like this."