Tennis: Measures taken by ATP/WTA to limit night sessions

A few days before the Australian Open, in order to avoid some matches ending at the end of the night, ATP and WTA announced that no more matches will start after 23:00 this Tuesday.

To prevent some matches from ending at the end of the night, no further matches will start after 23:00: This is one of the measures announced jointly by ATP and WTA officials on Tuesday, which will come into effect immediately. As the start of the Australian Open approaches. Among other measures, matches will be moved to another venue if they cannot start before 22:30 on the originally chosen venue, and night sessions must start at 19:30 at the latest, with the ATP and WTA even recommending the start time. According to the press release published on their website, 18.30.

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The announcement comes just days before the start of last year’s Australian Open in Melbourne, where Andy Murray completed his second-round match against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4:06 a.m. “It’s a farce,” predicted the former world No. 1 Briton, who broke the record for the most recent match in history since 2008 at the Australian Open in half an hour. Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt defeated Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis at 4:33 a.m. after a very late start to the match.

French tournaments are at the heart of the problem

The US Open and, more recently, Roland-Garros, which has offered matches in the night session from 21.00 since 2021, have also been the target of criticism. Wimbledon, where no match can be played after 23:00 in accordance with the agreement made with the district, is an exception to this rule. The ATP and WTA also state: “In exceptional circumstances, a tournament may request an exemption from the ATP/WTA based on local cultural traditions, citing weather conditions or other extenuating circumstances.”

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In addition to the Grand Slam, the problem of late matches is frequently encountered in the Masters 1000 in Paris. Jannik Sinner completed her second round in November against Mackenzie McDonald at 2:37 a.m. The Italian athlete (world number 5) withdrew from the next round, scheduled for the afternoon of the same day, citing “fatigue” due to lack of recovery time. His coach, Darren Cahill, pointed out that “the welfare of the players was not taken into account”. During the 2022 edition, Frenchman Corentin Moutet and Englishman Cameron Norrie completed their second tour after midnight, which started at 03:03.

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Among the measures taken on Tuesday is the limitation of the number of matches to be played on a single court in a day to five, three during the day and two at night. The ATP and WTA also announced on Tuesday that a strategic study on tennis balls is underway, with the aim of introducing new balls of better quality and reliability from 2025.

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