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Finishing After 4 AM? Good for the Lore, Bad for the Next Round

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday January 20, 2023

Finishing after four AM, a tired Andy Murray said it best when he tried to sum up the enormity of his victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis on Friday morning in Melbourne.

Tennis Express

“It's obviously amazing to win the match, but I also want to go to bed now.” he said. “It's great, great. But I want to sleep.”

He has a point – and it’s worth considering. As much fun as those electric late-night finishes can be, we must take note of the fact that they are extremely difficult for the players, the fans, and the various other people who are employed by or at the tournament in different capacities.

If you asked the question after Carlos Alcaraz defeated Jannik Sinner at 2:50 AM in New York last summer, then you are certainly asking it today after Murray’s dramatic win over Kokkinakis, just a few hours before sunrise.

The question was put to Murray after the match – keep in mind that Murray didn’t just have to do recovery before going to bed, he also had to do a press conference!

He was asked: Does tennis need to change this business of playing at three, four in the morning?

“Yeah, because I don't know who it's beneficial for,” Murray said. “A match like that, we come here after the match, and that's what discussion is. Rather than it being an epic Murray-Kokkinakis match, it ends in a bit of a farce.”

Murray said he appreciates the fact that fans stayed til the bitter end, and he also appreciates that he and Kokkinakis, who played for five hours and 45 minutes, weren’t the only ones still working at that hour.

“Amazingly people stayed until the end. I really appreciate people doing that, creating an atmosphere for us at the end,” he said. “I really appreciate that. Some people need to work the following day and everything.”

But he used the ball kids as an example, and said that he wouldn’t appreciate having his kids out at a tennis event until 5 in the morning.

“If my child was a ball kid for a tournament, they're coming home at 5 in the morning, as a parent, I'm snapping at that,” he said. “It's not beneficial for them. It's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. I don't think it's amazing for the fans. It's not good for the players.

Perhaps the first thing that needs to happen is the late finishes need to stop being considered as a badge of honor for the sport. If that was the case the tournaments may try to schedule differently so that it didn’t happen.

But late-night epics have been a part of the tradition of the Slams for years, and at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a big impetus to change that. Of course there are curfews at Wimbledon and Roland-Garros, but at the hard court Slams it’s game on.

Like it or not, it makes for a great story, and some tired eyes the next day.