Last week’s epic encounter between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis stood for five hours and 45 minutes on the court, finishing at 4 am.
Britain’s last single player at the Australian Open, Andy Murray, has hit out at the schedule after being knocked out following a brutal back-to-back performance.
A heroic undertaking that saw the 35-year-old give it his all is now being pointed out with concerns raised over the player’s health after he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in round three on Saturday.
Former world number one Murray returned to the tennis court 39 hours later on the weekend after finishing his second-round match at 4 am on Friday.
Defeating Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in a gruelling and tense five-set win has commentators and players criticising the timings of the tournament.
After the Kokkinakis duel, Murray pointed out it was not just players suffering from the gruelling schedule, with officials, ball kids, and fans also affected.
“Rather than the discussion being about an epic Murray-Kokkinakis match it ends in a bit of a farce,” Murray said.
“If I had a ball kid who is coming home at 5am, I’m snapping at that. It’s not beneficial for them, the umpires, the officials, I don’t think it’s amazing for the fans or good for players,” the tennis superstar added.
“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” he said at his post-match press conference.
However, Australian Open director Craig Tiley differs from the opinion of the 46 singles titles holder.
“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,” the director said.
“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.”
Favourite of the tournament, Novak Djokovic is still playing in the contest and has added his voice to calls for changes to be made to the Australian Open schedule.
“Players’ input is always important for tournament organisation, whether it’s decisive, we know that it’s not because it comes down to what the TV broadcasters want to have. That’s the ultimate decision-maker, Djokovic said.
“For the crowd, it’s entertaining, it’s exciting, to have matches [at] midnight, 1, 2, 3am. For us, it’s really gruelling. Even if you go through and win, prevail in these kind of matches, you still have to come back,” the 21 Grand Slam men’s singles titles holder added.
“You have your sleeping cycle, rhythm disrupted completely, not enough time really to recover for another five-setter. Something needs to be addressed in terms of the schedule after what we’ve seen this year.”