John McEnroe gets his way after ‘crazy’ and ‘absurd’ reaction: Why this year’s Australian Open will be longest in history
The 2024 Australian Open will be the longest in its 118-year history with tournament organisers starting it a day early to make it run 15 days instead of the traditional 14.
The decision to start on Sunday January 14 – instead of the following day as per usual procedure – means there are 52 playing sessions instead of 47.
It is an attempt to overcome the early morning finishes seen in previous editions – notably last year when . Andy Murray conquered Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4:05 am local time after a near six-hour second-round match.
That contest, which started at 10pm, was criticised by Murray, and John McEnroe who labelled it “absurd” and “crazy”.
“This happens rarely, but to me, they should ensure that this doesn’t happen,” he said. “This is crazy to have players play to this hour at this level with so much at stake.
“To me, it’s just absurd that the players are playing, it’s going to be a match people talk about, but it’s also a match that greatly affects Andy’s chances of going deeper in the tournament.”
Murray was indeed affected, and upset at the farcial scenes.
“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” he said at the post-match press conference. “We come here after the match, and that’s what the discussion is, rather than it being like the epic Murray-Kokkinakis match. It ends in a bit of a farce.”
The record for the latest finish at a Grand Slam was set at the Australian Open in 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt beat Marcos Baghdatis at 4:33 a.m.
Wimbledon has an 11pm curfew and McEnroe argued: “There’s got to be some type of cut-off point. Even then, there would be complaints about that as well – like why stop it at one in the morning if it’s two sets to one and players would want to finish?””At what time is the legitimate time to stop playing? But these things need to be addressed.”
AO chief Craig Tiley said they listened to the feedback from players and fans and and were “excited to deliver a solution to minimise late finishes while continuing to provide a fair and equitable schedule on the stadium courts.
“The additional day will achieve this, benefiting scheduling for fans and players alike. The first round will now be played over three days instead of two, also giving fans an extra day of unbelievable tennis, entertainment, food and family fun.
“Every year, our team works hard to bring fans an event that feels new and exciting, and this is another opportunity to grow what is already the biggest annual sporting event in the world in January.”