Aus Open stars refuse to change courts as organisers on course for embarrassment

Aus Open stars refuse to change courts as organisers on course for embarrassment

Australian Open organisers faced another scheduling issue on Tuesday as the day session finished 90 minutes after the night matches were due to begin. Novak Djokovic and Coco Gauff both needed more than three hours to win their matches, delaying Aryna Sabalenka vs Barbora Krejcikova and Jannik Sinner vs Andrey Rublev. The tournament thought they found a solution when they offered to move the second women’s quarter-final to Margaret Court Arena but both players refused, opting to stay on the main showcourt.

The Australian Open schedule caused more controversy on day 10 of the tournament when the night session didn’t start until 9pm local time – two hours after it was meant to begin. The first singles match of the day only started at 1pm, with Coco Gauff taking three hours and eight minutes to see off Marta Kostyuk.

Djokovic and Fritz then took to the court more than two hours later than scheduled. It was already apparent that it could be another late-night finish in Melbourne – especially when it took 84 minutes for Djokovic to win the first set. Organisers were left scrambling to try and make adjustments, with two matches still to be played, but their efforts were thwarted when Sabalenka and Krejcikova refused to be moved.

BBC Radio 5 Live started reporting that the first night session match was going to be put on Margaret Court Arena, the second showcourt, so that Sinner vs Rublev could start earlier. “Just hearing from Dani [Hantuchova] that no decision has been made yet. There is no confirmation of what is happening,” Gigi Salmon explained.

But she knew that it would take some convincing if bosses wanted the defending champion and the No. 9 seed to agree to be downgraded. Salmon continued: “They would’ve had to get or they will have to get the agreement of the players. And I guess for the women it’s tough because whether they play on this court or Margaret Court Arena, they’re not going to have the latest of finishes.

“So it will be quite tough to give them that argument of, well if you go on Margaret Court you’ll finish earlier because that won’t necessarily be the case because they would’ve been the next match on here.” And it proved to be true, as she later reported that Sabalenka and Krejcikova didn’t want to be bumped off and were happy to wait for Djokovic to finish his match.

“Oh hang on a second I’m hearing that the women’s match is staying on this court. They didn’t want to move,” she added. It meant that the women were around two hours late to take to the court, as organisers needed to clear the stands of day session fans and replace them with night ticket holders after Djokovic won his match 7-6(3) 4-6 6-2 6-3.


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