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The Australian Open will start on Sunday and last 15 days, with the hope of reducing late nights
The change comes after this year's Australian Open included a second-round match between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis that concluded after 4 a.m.
Published Oct 02, 2023
The Australian Open will begin on a Sunday next year, expanding the Grand Slam tennis tournament to a 15-day event for the first time, with the intention of decreasing the likelihood of late-night finishes.
Tennis Australia announced the change Monday, saying it hopes to make things better for the athletes and spectators by avoiding matches that stretch well past midnight. The change for next January's tournament at Melbourne Park comes after this year's Australian Open included a second-round match between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis that concluded after 4 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," Murray, a three-time major champion, said after that five-set win that lasted 5 hours, 45 minutes. "So, yeah, we talk about it all the time. It's been spoken about for years. When you start the night matches late, and have conditions like that, these things are going to happen."
"Tennis after dark" has become something of a semi-regular occurrence in tennis, which is a sport played without a clock, meaning contests can be shorter than an hour or last as long as Murray's victory in January did.
More and more players have been speaking out about those sorts of scheduling issues as more and more matches have gone deep into the night.
Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova wrote Monday on social media that it was "far from ideal" to finish a match at the China Open at 1 a.m. "and then be back on the schedule" the following day.
"Please do better for your players," she urged the WTA women's tour.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said his event's first round will now be scheduled across three days, instead of the previous two.
The new dates for 2024 will be Jan. 14-28, as the Australian Open now joins the French Open as the only tennis majors to be held over 15 days. The U.S. Open and Wimbledon are both 14-day events.
"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," Tiley said.
The other benefit to Tennis Australia, of course, is an extra day of revenue from tickets, merchandise and other areas.
There will be a rise from 47 to 52 total sessions in the three largest stadiums. Day sessions at Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena will now include a minimum of two matches, rather than three, "to limit the potential of late finishes," Tennis Australia said.