Tennis experts have taken aim at the Australian Open and Craig Tiley after Daniil Medvedev was left thanking fans who stayed past 3am to cheer him on at the Australian Open after a scheduling disaster. Medvedev came back from two sets down to win a five-set thriller against Emil Ruusuvuori that finished at 3.40am having taken to the court after 11 pm.
To their credit, a number of fans stuck around to cheer on the Russian as he made the extraordinary comeback to keep his grand slam journey alive. He signed autographs at 4am in the morning and thanked many for staying. "Honestly guys... I would not be here. Thanks for staying. If I was a tennis fan, at one o'clock, I'd say, 'okay let's go and catch the end of the match on TV'. So thanks guys - you're strong," he said.
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Medvedev was asked what time he would get to bed, and Medvedev admitted he wasn't sure about how he would treat the next few hours. "I don't know, probably, hopefully 6.30?" he said. "Second question is 'do I do the physio?' If I don't do the physio, I think I don't go out and play in two days.
"If I do the physio, I will see how much I sleep. Maybe if I can sleep from 6 to 12, then some easy practice tomorrow. But, look it can tough, it's not easy - but I want to try to win and I will give my everything, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."
While Medvedev was pragmatic about his plan going forward, the tennis world was not as thrilled with the schedule considering Australian Open boss Tiley extended the tournament to 15-days in what was considered a bid to stop early morning finishes.
Except this has not been the case. While Medvedev and Ruusuvuori didn't go as late as Andy Murray or Thanasi Kokkinakis last year, tennis commentator Caroline Whitaker claimed both players should be 'pissed off' after taking to the court after 11pm.
But Matt Roberts went a step further and ripped Tiley and the Australian Open after he claimed the extra day was never going to impact the schedule, but was just designed to get more people through the door. “The Sunday start is an admirable effort to push up the attendance at the Australian Open," he said on the The Tennis Podcast.
“Craig Tiley is targeting a million people through the gates. Does it really count if so many of those people have to leave before tennis is over? Like are they really seeing the tennis? Are we really counting them as coming to the Australian Open when they’re having a diminished experience because they can’t stay and watch?
“This match, which is great, is being played in a largely empty Rod Laver Arena. Of course it’s empty. It’s 2.30 in the morning! What the hell are we doing?" American tennis player John Isner slammed the timing and said players are compromised in recovery after such late finishes.
No one should be playing tennis at 330am. This is looney tunes.
— John Isner (@JohnIsner) January 18, 2024
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) January 18, 2024
Tim Henman blasts Australian Open finish
UK tennis great Tim Henman also admitted something needed to be done to make sure matches don't start at 11pm. “The problem in the slams is you're playing best in five sets,” Henman said on Eurosport. “On tour, you're playing best of three sets, but it's been a crazy day.
“I don't know whether you need to start the night session a little bit earlier. Do you make the balls, the courts a bit quicker? Who knows? But this is not what they wanted in this tournament.” Medvedev admitted he felt exhausted when he walked on court after watching Elena Rybakina and Anna Blinkova still playing their epic deciding half-an-hour tiebreak in the preceding match.
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