For the first time in Australian Open history, the 2024 edition will have a Sunday start as a radical measure to avoid late night finishes, tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed.
That means next year's Australian Open will officially become a 15-day event, giving the tournamnet organizers the chance to schedule first-round matches in the first three days of the event. Therefore, the first match day of the 2024 tournamnet will be on Sunday, January 14th.
As Tiley confirmed in a press release, this is a key step in ensuring that players and fans are provided with a 'fair and equitable' schedule on all stadium courts. The Australian Open sessions will now increase from 47 to 52 on three main courts, those being Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, and John Cain Arena.
The day session will feature a minimum of two matches on the main courts, instead of three, to reduce the potential of late-night finishes. Night sessions will retain the same two matches. In the past, the Australian Open scheduled a minimum of five matches on its two main courts: Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena during the first six days of the tournament.
"We’ve listened to feedback from the players and fans and are excited to deliver a solution to minimise late finishes while continuing to provide a fair and equitable schedule on the stadium courts."
"The additional day will achieve this, benefiting scheduling for fans and players alike. The first round will now be played over three days instead of two, also giving fans an extra day of unbelievable tennis, entertainment, food and family fun."
"Every year our team works hard to bring fans an event that feels new and exciting, and this is another opportunity to grow what is already the biggest annual sporting event in the world in January."
The tournament is banking on the fact that reducing the number of matches during the day session will help to prevent late finishes to the night matches. The move is a welcome relief for the players who have previously condemned poor scheduling at Grand Slam tournaments.
Former British No. 1 Andy Murray was on the frontline when it came to voicing his opinion on the matter. Murray was the most affected at this year's Australian Open when he started his second-round match against Thanasi Kokkinakis at 20 minutes past 10 pm local time.
He played for nearly six hours, with match finishing at 4:05 am. At the time, Murray called it a 'farce' and has since made his feelings known about the damaging effect it has on the players and fans during a recent interview at the US Open, explaining that it was clearly wrong.
The 2024 Australian Open will now commence on January 14th and run till 28th, becoming the second Grand Slam after Roland Garros to incorporate a Sunday start.