Sports, Tennis

Australian Open extends to 15 days

Published : 03 Oct 2023 09:20 PM

The Australian Open said Tuesday it is adding a day to become a 15-day event in an effort to curb late-night matches -- after Briton Andy Murray notably played until 4:05 am.

The annual Melbourne-based tournament, the first of Four Grand Slam contests each year, will now start a day earlier on a Sunday.

Tennis Australia announced the change Monday, saying its intention was to decrease the likelihood of late-night finishes for the athletes and spectators.

The change for next January's tournament at Melbourne Park comes after this year's Australian Open included a second-round match between Andy Murry  and Thanasi Kokkinakis that concluded after 4 a.m.

The late finishes have become something of a semi-regular occurrence in tennis, a sport played without a clock, meaning contests can be shorter than an hour or last more than 5 1/2 hours, as Murray's victory in January did.

"We have listened to feedback from the players and fans and are excited to deliver a solution to minimise late finishes," Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.

"The additional day will achieve this, benefiting scheduling for fans and players alike."

The Australian Open did not specifically mention Murray's late-night match in Melbourne this year, which set off public debate about the tournament's schedule.

Murray memorably asked during his epic five-set victory: "Why are we playing at 3 am?"

His five-hour, 45-minute match against Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis finally ended at 4:05 am.

"It's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. I don't think it's amazing for the fans. It's not good for the players," he said after the match in January.

The Australian Open said data showed matches are now longer.

Next year's tournament will be played from January 14-28.