After the second late finish by a Big Four player this season, ATP CEO Chris Kermode says the tour will look at making changes.
In February, Rafael Nadal didn’t finish his match until 3:18am in the Rio quarterfinals. A weary Rafa returned later that evening only to lose in the semifinals to Fabio Fognini in three sets.
Yesterday, Andy Murray didn’t finish his second round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber until 3:00am in Madrid.
The Daily Mail had this statement on the issue from Kermode:
‘There are a number of challenges inherent with match scheduling at tennis events, with multiple interests at stake across players, promoters, ticket holders, TV broadcasters and media,’ he said.
‘The scheduling issues in Madrid were unfortunate, with players going on-court past 1am at a disadvantage for the following day’s matches.
‘It is critical that the interests of both players and tournaments are protected in a balanced manner on the Tour moving forward. While such instances are rare, we will look at reducing the risk of similar instances occurring in the future.’
The schedule yesterday featured six matches on stadium court starting from 11am. Miami and Indian Wells, both of which have night sessions, follow similar early round schedules, milking every dollar they can from extra sessions. But that can backfire. On Wednesday, four of the five matches prior to Murray went three sets, with three of those going to the maximum third set tiebreaker. And Murray’s match didn’t begin until 1:12am, a minute shy of Nadal’s 1:13am start.
Without tickets, without TV, Murray-Kohlschreiber could have been moved to another court. But the tournament would have come under fire from paying fans and broadcasters. So the players take the fall.
Bad luck or not, Murray now has just 16 hours to quickly regroup for his 7pm third round against Marcel Granollers later today.
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