Australian Open announces major shake-up after Andy Murray slammed 4am ‘farce’

The Australian Open has announced a “historic” change to the schedule in a bid to minimise late-night finishes. From 2024 onwards, the tournament will be staged over 15 days instead of 14 while day sessions on the main show court have been reduced. It comes after Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis played their second-round match until 4:05am earlier this year, with the Brit branding the scheduling a “farce”.

The Australian Open will begin a day earlier next season, with the tournament beginning on a Sunday instead of a Monday. It means that the first round will be staged across three days instead of two.

The first Major of the season will join the French Open in becoming a 15-day tournament as bosses try to tackle the issue of increasingly longer matches and later finishes. And in another shake-up to the schedule, the day sessions on both Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena will be reduced to a minimum of two matches, down from three.

Tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed that the changes were being brought in following player feedback. It comes after Murray won a five-set battle against Kokkinakis at 4:05am – the second-latest finish in Australian Open history.

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“We’ve listened to feedback from the players and fans and are excited to deliver a solution to minimise late finishes while continuing to provide a fair and equitable schedule on the stadium courts,” Tiley – who is also the CEO of Tennis Australia – said.

“The additional day will achieve this, benefiting scheduling 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.”

The tournament will be hoping that the new changes avoid matches going into the early hours of the morning as Murray claimed that his 4am finish against Kokkinakis took away from the match itself. “I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” the former world No 1 said at the time.

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“We come here after the match and that’s what the discussion is, rather than it being like, ‘epic Murray-Kokkinakis match’ – it ends in a bit of a farce. Amazingly people stayed until the end, and I really appreciate people doing that and creating an atmosphere for us. Some people obviously need to work the following day and everything.”

The match marked the third-latest finish in professional tennis history and Murray called on tennis bosses to look at the scheduling – a wish that has now been answered. He added: “We talk about it all the time, and it’s been spoken about for years. But when you start the night matches late and have conditions like that, these things are going to happen.”

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