Australian Open's major announcement in historic 100-year first

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Craig Tiley, pictured here speaking to the media at the Australian Open.
Craig Tiley has announced the Australian Open women's semi-finals are moving to prime time. Image: Getty

Australian Open officials have announced that the women's semi-finals will be played at night in 2022 for the first time in 100 years.

Tennis Australia announced the scheduling shift on Friday, revealing both semi-finals will take place in the prime-time evening sessions on Thursday, January 27.

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The men's semi-finals will take place the following day - the first in the mid-afternoon and the second at night.

The fixturing shake-up will come on the 100th anniversary of the first-ever women's Australian Open in 1922.

It also comes 12 years after the women's final was moved to Saturday night in 2009.

Tennis is the leading global individual sport in which women receive equal pay and Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said Tennis Australia was intent on ensuring the world's best female athletes share the limelight in Melbourne.

"As we celebrate 100 years of women's competition at what is now the Australian Open, I'm delighted to further showcase the women's game by scheduling the semi-finals in the prime-time TV spot of Thursday night," Tiley said.

"We are incredibly fortunate in tennis to not only have great athletes in our sport, but tremendous personalities and role models.

"This includes our very own World No.1 and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty, recent two-time AO champion Naomi Osaka, the incredible Serena and Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Li Na ... the list of inspirational women in tennis is long, and they are all extraordinary."

Naomi Osaka, pictured here with Craig Tiley after the 2021 Australian Open final.
Naomi Osaka with Craig Tiley after the 2021 Australian Open final. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Aussie great tips Novak Djokovic to play

Meanwhile, Todd Woodbridge says he'd be astonished if Novak Djokovic doesn't defend his Australian Open crown in January.

Yet to publicly reveal his vaccination status and with Victorian premier Dan Andrews adamant no unvaccinated players will be granted entry to Melbourne Park, Djokovic's participation remains under a cloud.

But with the Serbian superstar level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career majors and obsessed with finishing as the men's all-time grand slam title leader, Woodbridge believes there's too much at stake for Djokovic to let such a big opportunity slip.

"I think given what's on the line, it would be amazing if he didn't turn up. Yeah, I do think he'll play," Woodbridge told AAP on Thursday.

But if he doesn't show, Woodbridge believes that would be another example of Djokovic being his own man and sticking to the principles and values that have helped him reach No.1.

"It would be his own personal statement in a sense of what he believes in," the doubles great turned commentator said.

"I suppose that's what's given him that point of difference in his career, where he made the decision to make changes to his diet and his fitness and in his health.

"And that's up to him to make those choices.

"But I don't think Australia's going to be the only issue for him moving forward. It's more about how does the rest of the year play out if that were to happen."

with AAP

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