Scheduling of night matches in the Australian Open 2023 has been widely criticised due to its nature of finishing late at night. And Thursday night (or should we say Friday morning) was a prime example. The titanic battle began between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis at 10.20 pm and finished at 4.05 am, robbing most local tennis fans of watching one of the all-time greatest Australian Open clashes.
However, the Australian Open will not amend its scheduling despite coming in for criticism after an epic encounter. Australian Open boss Craig Tiley dug in on Friday morning and backed the scheduling of the tournament, which has been affected by delays due to extreme weather earlier in the week, saying late-night finishes were an unavoidable part of the year’s first grand slam tournament.
“At this point, there is no need to alter the schedule,” Tiley told Channel Nine. “We always look at it when we do the debrief like we do every year. At this point, we’ve got to fit the matches in the 14 days. You don’t have many options.
“It was an epic match and when you schedule a match like that just before 10 in the evening, you’re not expecting it to go close to six hours. When you have 25 sessions, two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people coming through the gate, all the best players – 500 of them – in the world here, you’re going to have those moments.”
We have had extreme heat: Craig Tiley
Tiley said it was difficult to change the schedule given there are so many variables to contend with and that there will always be at least one match each tournament that will go as long as the one between Murray and Kokkinakis went. Broadcast deals were also a factor in not implementing a cut-off point, he said.
“Over the last few days we have had extreme heat, we’ve had over five breaks of rain … so we’ve had three late nights with scheduling trying to catch up with matches,” Tiley noted.
“But generally a women’s match is about an hour and a half and a men’s match a little over two and a half hours – that’s the length of match you work your schedule around.