Open matches scheduled earlier after chaotic day

Aus Open highlights - night 10

@AusOpen – X

A hot and bothered Novak Djokovic has bounded into yet another Australian Open semi-final with a hard-fought win over Taylor Fritz amid farcical scheduling at Melbourne Park.

The pesky American 12th seed made life difficult for 36-year-old Djokovic on Tuesday afternoon in their sweltering quarter-final clash on Rod Laver Arena.

The match ended just before 8.30pm local time, delaying the night session quarter-final double header which was due to begin at 7pm.

Women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka’s quarter-final against Czech ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova didn’t get underway until 9.09 pm, more than two hours after the night session could have started.

Fortunately for organisers, the red-hot Sabalenka powered into another semi-final by completing her victory in just 71 minutes.

Italian fourth seed Jannik Sinner took to the court against Russian Andrey Rublev at 10.42 pm, with the straight-sets match not finishing until 1.21 pm.

It was nowhere close to the famous Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis 4.33 am finish at Melbourne Park in 2008, or even last year’s 4.05 am mark by Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis.

But bleary-eyed fans who had paid top dollar for night tickets were fuming as they were forced to wait hours to take their seats.

Others watching from home took to social media to vent their frustration at organisers.

“It’s astounding to me that a ten-figure entity like the Australian Open can’t figure out scheduling. Just recruit an intern from the local college; I wager they could put a more effective schedule together,” wrote one user on X.

The scheduling made a mockery of tournament director Craig Tiley’s explanation for adding an extra day to this year’s Australian Open for the first time.

“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 proclaimed in October.

But Australian Open organisers appear to have learned a harsh lesson, moving the start time of the first match on Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena forward by an hour.

Unseeded Czech teenager Linda Noskova and Ukraine qualifier Dayana Yastremska’s quarter-final will be the first match starting at 12pm.

Third seed Daniil Medvedev has an opportunity to qualify for his third semi-final at Melbourne Park when he faces Hungary’s Hubert Hurkacz in last-eight clash.

The night session will feature unseeded Russian Anna Kalinskaya up against Chinese dark horse Qinwen Zheng, while young Spanish star Carlos Alcarav will aim to advance to the last four at Melbourne Park for the first time when he faces German sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

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