Australian Open: Late arrivals branded ‘tennis nightmare’ after Andy Murray win at 4am


It was 4.05am in Melbourne when Andy Murray drilled a backhand winner past Thanasi Kokkinakis, finally ending a marathon contest that had started five hours and 45 minutes earlier.

Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1, had come from two sets down to beat Kokkinakis at the Australian Open, laying bare all the grit and determination that characterized his tennis career.

Kokkinakis also deserves huge credit for continuing to fight until the early hours of Thursday morning, when most Aussies were long in bed.

But as the players emptied all their energy reserves on Margaret Court Arena, many came away wondering why a game was still being played past 4am.

Among them was Murray himself, who was fuming about not being allowed to go to the bathroom after already taking a bathroom break earlier in the game.

“It’s so disrespectful that the tournament has us here until three, fucking four in the morning and we’re not allowed to pee,” said the Scot.

Murray’s brother, doubles specialist Jamie, shared his brother’s frustration, Tweeter during the second round match: “We can’t keep having players competing until the wee hours of the morning. Garbage for everyone involved – players/fans/event staff.

The Australian Open has a demanding schedule in the early rounds of the tournament; five matches are regularly played each day on the show courts – three during the day and two at night.

The match between Murray and Kokkinakis was the penultimate result in Australian Open history.

In 2008, Lleyton Hewitt took victory over Marcos Baghdatis in five sets at 4:33 after Roger Federer took four and a half hours to defeat Janko Tipsarevic earlier in the day.

These late arrivals are good news for international viewers in Europe and North America, who can enjoy the drama and tension of a five-set match, but less good news for those involved in the show itself. .

“I really think it’s a tennis nightmare,” Simon Cambers, tennis writer and co-author of The Roger Federer Effect, told CNN Sport.

“The players involved in these night games are hit hard and their chances of progress are slim.

“Very few people in Australia would have stayed awake to watch the whole game and while the international viewing figures would have been good, the game must be about more than money.

“Many others are also affected, including staff, officials, media, ball kids, all of whom have to work ridiculous hours which makes them tired and not doing their job too. What other elite sport plays until 4am? It’s crazy.”

Murray (left) and Kokkinakis shake hands after their second round match at the Australian Open.

CNN contacted Tennis Australia regarding the Australian Open scheduling but did not immediately receive a response.

Murray, who faces Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round on Saturday, was back in training at the Margaret Court Arena on Friday, eight hours after his match against Kokkinakis ended.

During this time, he would have fulfilled his media responsibilities, warmed up, eaten something, returned to his hotel and, once the adrenaline of the match had died down, slept.

The Australian Open organizers, however, see no need to immediately change the tournament schedule after the evening is over.

“We have to protect the matches,” Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley told Australian broadcaster Nine. “If you just put a game on overnight and there’s an injury, you have nothing for the fans or the broadcasters.

“At this stage, there is no need to change the schedule. We always review it when we do the debriefing as we do every year; we’ve had long matches before, at this stage we have to arrange matches within 14 days, so you don’t have a lot of options.

Lleyton Hewitt waits for Marcos Baghdatis' serve at 4:30 a.m. at the 2008 Australian Open.

Cambers thinks it would be worth exploring the possibility of shortening the men’s matches to the best of three sets in the earlier rounds to ease the pressure on the schedule, then returning to the best of five from the fourth round.

“Before anyone started shouting about lore, it was done before, back in the 1970s,” he says.

“If they don’t want to change the schedule, make games shorter and less epic by speeding up pitches and balls. That way rallies and games won’t leave everyone exhausted and potentially, it could lengthen the player’s career.

Murray, who also needed five sets to defeat Matteo Berrettini in the first round, is due to play the first match of the night session at Margaret Court Arena on Saturday.

He and his opponent Bautista Agut, who came from two sets down to beat Brandon Holt in the second round, are hoping for quicker wins this time around.

But history isn’t particularly kind to them on that front: the last time they met in Melbourne, Bautista Agut triumphed in five sets and over four hours.

Maybe we should prepare for another rollercoaster marathon at the Australian Open.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button