(Paris) No more matches will start after 11 p.m., in order to avoid certain matches ending at the end of the night: this is one of the measures, with immediate effect, announced Tuesday jointly by the ATP authorities and the WTA, as the start of the Australian Open approaches.
Among other measures, matches will be moved to another court if they cannot start before 10:30 p.m. on the one initially chosen, and night sessions must begin no later than 7:30 p.m., the ATP and WTA even advocating that they begin at 6:30 p.m., according to the press release published on their sites.
This announcement comes a few days before the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne where, last year, Andy Murray concluded his second round match against Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4:06 a.m.
“A farce,” said the Briton, ex-N. 1 in the world, who came within half an hour of the record for the latest match in history, dating back to 2008, at the Australian Open. Australian Lleyton Hewitt then defeated Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis at 4:33 a.m., after their match started very late.
The United States Open, and more recently Roland-Garros – which since 2021 has offered a match in a night session from 9 p.m. – have also been the subject of criticism.
Wimbledon, where, under an agreement with the neighborhood, no match can go beyond 11 p.m., escapes the rule.
“In exceptional circumstances, a tournament may request an exemption from the ATP/WTA, based on local cultural traditions, highlighting weather conditions or other extenuating circumstances,” the ATP and WTA further specify. .
Apart from the Grand Slam, the Paris Masters 1000 is also frequently faced with this problem of late endings of matches.
Jannik Sinner finished his 2nd round there against Mackenzie McDonald in November at 2:37 a.m. The Italian (world No.5) withdrew from the next round, scheduled for the afternoon of the same day, citing a state of “fatigue” due to the lack of recovery time.
His coach Darren Cahill had pointed out the “lack of consideration for the well-being of the players”.
During the 2022 edition, Frenchman Corentin Moutet and Briton Cameron Norrie completed their second lap, which started after midnight, at 3:03 a.m.
Also included in the set of measures taken on Tuesday is the limitation to five of the number of matches scheduled in a day on a single court – three during the day and two at night.
The ATP and WTA also announced on Tuesday that a strategic study on tennis balls was underway, with the aim of offering new balls of higher quality and reliability from 2025.