No plans to alter punishing Open schedule

AO Tournament Director Craig Tiley is adamant scheduling won't change to avoid late finishes.

AO Tournament Director Craig Tiley is adamant scheduling won't change to avoid late finishes. Photo: AAP

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is adamant the tournament schedule won’t be altered to avoid late finishes despite five-time finalist Andy Murray labelling his marathon against Thanasi Kokkinakis a “farce”.

Murray and Kokkinakis didn’t hit Margaret Court Arena until 10.22pm on Thursday and after the Scottish veteran mounted an incredible five-set comeback victory, they didn’t finish until 4.05am Friday.

The pair had to wait until Belinda Bencic wrapped up her match against Claire Liu, which took an hour and 51 minutes, to get on court.

“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” Murray said of the late finish.

“Rather than the discussion being about an epic Murray-Kokkinakis match it ends in a bit of a farce.

“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.”

Murray was also denied a bathroom break at 3am and aired his frustrations with the chair umpire when he levelled proceedings at two-sets all.

“It’s so disrespectful that the tournament has us out here until three, four o’ clock in the morning and we’re not allowed to go and take a piss. It’s a joke,” he said.

But Tiley ruled out any adjustments mid-tournament, either via a curfew or by shuffling matches around.

“At this point, there’s no need to alter the schedule,” he told the Nine Network.

“We will always look at it when we do the (post-tournament) debrief, like we do every year.

“But at this point … we’ve got to fit those matches in the 14 days so you don’t have many options.

“Over the last three days, we’ve had extreme heat, over five breaks of rain, we’ve had cold … we’ve had three late nights with scheduling to try and catch up with matches.”

Three minutes before Murray and Kokkinakis started play, the Scot’s older brother, doubles champion Jamie Murray, queried why two matches were held on court back-to-back after 7pm.

“Time for tennis to move to only one match at the night sessions at grand slams,” Jamie Murray wrote on Twitter.

“This is the best outcome for ALL singles players.

“We can’t continue to have players compete into the wee hours of the morning. Rubbish for everyone involved – players/fans/event staff etc.”

But Tiley suggested the Murray situation was an anomaly.

“You are going to have an out-of-the-box situation like last night where it goes extra-long, unexpectedly,” he said.

“There’s always one and it’s always hard to schedule the entire event around the possibility that it’s going to happen one time.

“You’ve also got to protect the matches. If you just put one match at night and there was an injury, you don’t have anything for the fans or the broadcasters.”


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