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Australian Open extends to 15 days to cut late finishes


The Australian Open is adding a day to become a 15-day event in an effort to curb late-night matches, said organizers on Tuesday.

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

“We’ve listened to feedback from the players and fans and are excited to deliver a solution to minimize late finishes while continuing to provide a fair and equitable schedule on the stadium courts,” said Craig Tiley, chief executive officer of Tennis Australia and tournament director of Australian Open.

Tiley noted that the additional day would benefit the schedule for fans and players alike.

“The first round will now be played over three days instead of two, also giving fans an extra day of unbelievable tennis, entertainment, food, and family fun,” he said.

Australian Open's tweet on October 3 about adding an extra day in the 2024 tournament. /@Australian Open

Australian Open’s tweet on October 3 about adding an extra day in the 2024 tournament. /@Australian Open

Australian Open’s tweet on October 3 about adding an extra day in the 2024 tournament. /@Australian Open

In January this year, Andy Murray, a five-time Australian Open runner-up, won 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 over Thanasi Kokkinakis in five hours, 45 minutes, which ended at 4:05 am.

The longest match of Murray’s career set off public debate about the tournament’s schedule.

Murray memorably asked, “Why are we playing at 3 a.m.?”

“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. “Everyone, including me, I think we should all get off to bed now.”

A scoreboard shows the match time of five hours and 45 minutes after five sets between Andy Murray of Britain and Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2023. /CFP

A scoreboard shows the match time of five hours and 45 minutes after five sets between Andy Murray of Britain and Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2023. /CFP

A scoreboard shows the match time of five hours and 45 minutes after five sets between Andy Murray of Britain and Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2023. /CFP

According to a statement from the tournament, the Sunday start increases the number of tennis sessions in the three arenas from 47 to 52.

The day session at Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena will feature a minimum of two matches, down from three, to limit the potential of late finishes.

Meanwhile, night sessions will continue to feature a minimum of two matches with the John Cain Arena schedule also remaining unchanged.

The Australian Open will take place in Melbourne from January 14 to 28, 2024, and will kick off a new Grand Slam season.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: An aerial view of an arena at Melbourne Park during the Australian Open, January 19, 2023. /CFP)



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