Andy Murray is happy to see tennis finally addressing its late night habit – although he is not ruling out more long days at the Australian Open.
The ATP and WTA announced earlier this week a new scheduling policy restricting the number of matches played per day at tournaments and setting a deadline of 11pm for contests to start.
Murray was involved in one of the latest finishes in grand slam history last year when he completed a five-set win over Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round of the Australian Open at 4.05am.
The Scot strongly criticised the scheduling afterwards, and the tournament’s response has been to move to a 15-day event, spreading the first round over three days.
There will be a minimum of two matches rather than three in the day session on Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena but the night session will still feature two matches starting at 7pm.
“I don’t think the Sunday start will change the late finishes,” said Murray. “I think on centre court they’re having two matches in the day, two matches in the evening.
“I think that will reduce the possibility for late finishes on Rod Laver just because it’s unlikely you’re going to have issues with the day session running into the night, then having that gap where they have to clear out the stadium and get the night session fans in.
“My understanding is that on the other show courts that’s not changing, so there still is the possibility for that to happen.”
Murray welcomed the tours’ new rules, saying: “It’s really good. I’ve spoken about it, I’ve heard lots of players and the media, obviously, discussing it for a long time. It just makes sense. It’s a very obvious thing that needs to change.
“I haven’t heard anyone really disagree with that. So it’s positive that there’s going to be some changes made. It will be good for, I think, everyone. It will definitely help with recovery for following day’s matches and things like that.
“I certainly think, for fans and the tournament, it just probably looks a wee bit more professional if you’re not finishing at three or four in the morning.”
Murray is making his 16th appearance in the main draw at Melbourne Park and will take on 30th-seeded Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the first round on Monday.
He cut a very frustrated figure at the end of last season and goes into this tournament short on wins but insisted he is feeling happier about his game.
“I definitely feel like I’m enjoying it better,” he said. “I think part of that is the mental side of it. Tennis is a difficult game in that respect. When you’re struggling, you’re obviously out there on your own, it can be difficult at times.
“Also the way you’re playing. When you know you’re capable of doing more than what you are, if you’re not happy with the way you’re hitting forehands and backhands and serving and those sorts of things, there’s the technical aspect as well.
“Fixing some of those problems has helped me feel better on the court. Definitely some focus on the mental side, as well. Reframing the way you look at things definitely, definitely helps.”
Murray and Etcheverry met twice last year, sharing the spoils in two long matches.
“I made most of my matches quite physical last year,” said Murray with a smile. “I know that last year, when I wasn’t serving well, you end up getting into lots more long rallies and everything. Hopefully that’s not the case in a couple of days.”
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