Andy Murray of Britain indicators autographs as he leaves Margaret Courtroom Enviornment within the early hours of Friday Jan. 20, 2023 following his 5 set win over Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis on the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Picture/Ng Han Guan)
Ng Han Guan
Andy Murray simply needed to go to the lavatory.
It was 3 a.m., he’d already been taking part in his Australian Open second-round match in opposition to Thanasi Kokkinakis for greater than 4 1/2 hours — they’d stick with it for one more set throughout greater than one other hour — and Murray hoped to be allowed to go to the locker room for a fast break.
Guidelines are guidelines, although, and Murray already had left the court docket twice, so chair umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore would not budge, prompting this rebuke from the three-time Grand Slam champion: “It’s a joke. And you understand it, as properly.”
Ah, the perils of taking part in all night time, one thing that happens often in tennis, greater than in different skilled sports activities. All of it left the 35-year-old Murray offended and questioning aloud after 4:05 a.m. Friday — when he lastly, mercifully, completed off the 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 victory over Kokkinakis following 5 hours, 45 minutes of clashing abilities and wills at Margaret Courtroom Enviornment — why this type of “farce,” as he termed it, must happen in any respect.
“If my youngster was a ball child for a event, they’re coming house at 5 within the morning — as a mother or father, I’m snapping at that. It’s not helpful for them. It’s not helpful for the umpires, the officers. I don’t assume it’s wonderful for the followers. It’s not good for the gamers,” mentioned Murray, a father of 4. “So, yeah, we discuss it on a regular basis. It’s been spoken about for years. While you begin the night time matches late, and have situations like that, these items are going to occur.”
Particularly at occasions just like the Australian Open and U.S. Open, which maintain day by day night time periods that often embody two matches on some courts. Which might result in excessive conditions similar to Murray vs. Kokkinakis, which got here 15 years to the day after the newest end in Grand Slam historical past, a match between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis on the 2008 Australian Open that concluded at 4:34 a.m.
“There’s no sport that does that. I don’t assume it’s excellent. … Who actually needs to observe a five-, six-hour match? That’s lengthy, even for TV,” mentioned the event’s No. 3-seeded girl, Jessica Pegula, whose dad and mom personal NFL and NHL groups. “I don’t assume any of the gamers assume that needs to be occurring in any respect.”
She and others identified it is laborious to go to mattress after a match like that, due to the adrenalin concerned, which hurts efforts to recuperate mentally and bodily.
The final girls’s match on Thursday’s schedule, wherein Marketa Vondrousova upset No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 at Rod Laver Enviornment, completed at after 1 a.m. Friday.
“It is type of loopy. For the physique, additionally: I don’t assume it’s wholesome to play at 1 a.m,” Vondrousova mentioned. “I simply want some sleep.”
Murray’s brother, Grand Slam doubles champion Jamie, tweeted: “Time for tennis to maneuver to just one match on the night time periods. … We won’t proceed to have gamers compete into the wee hours of the morning. Garbage for everybody concerned — gamers/followers/occasion workers. And so on.”
Nonetheless, don’t anticipate something to alter anytime quickly.
“At this level, there isn’t a want to change the schedule,” Craig Tiley, the event director and head of Tennis Australia, advised native broadcasting companion Channel 9 on Friday.
Murray will probably be again on court docket Saturday, going through No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut for a berth within the fourth spherical.
Murray, who additionally performed a five-setter within the first spherical in opposition to Matteo Berrettini and has already put in additional than 10 1/2 hours on court docket, was again at Melbourne Park earlier than 1 p.m. on Friday.
“It’s no enjoyable for Andy. I noticed him immediately earlier than my match,” mentioned Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open runner-up who gained his third-round match Friday afternoon. “I used to be pondering to myself, ‘What’s he doing right here? He needs to be in mattress!’”
Tsitsipas thinks people similar to Tiley will not be all that dissatisfied by this type of ‘round the clock competitors.
“There’s an excellent story behind this match, and it’s going to be remembered,” Tsitsipas mentioned. “I do keep in mind very vividly, very properly, the match that Baghdatis performed with Hewitt. It’s someplace again inside my thoughts someplace. … It’s positively a really magical second — for positive, not for the one who loses, as a result of it’s painful.”
Eventually yr’s U.S. Open, eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, two brilliant younger stars, engaged in a five-set battle over 5 hours, quarter-hour, till 2:50 a.m., setting the mark for the newest end in that event’s historical past.
Sinner was on the fallacious finish of that one. On Friday, his consequence was higher and his schedule extra easy: His 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 win in opposition to Marton Fucsovics started at 11 a.m.; his day was accomplished by 2:45 p.m.
“I don’t care a lot, no? I’m joyful to be on court docket. Doesn’t matter what time,” Sinner mentioned. “For positive, I favor (starting) at 11 than taking part in within the night time, (however) it is all a part of our sport now.”
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
This story was initially printed January 20, 2023 5:02 AM.