Australian Open: Murray calls for player protection after late-night Melbourne epic

By Sports Desk January 19, 2023

Andy Murray does not believe night matches dragging on into the early hours is beneficial to anybody.

Murray came back in stunning fashion at the Australian Open in a second-round match that started late on Thursday but dragged well into Friday in Melbourne.

The former world number one reached the third round with a marathon 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis.

At five hours and 45 minutes, the five-set thriller was the longest match of Murray's career and the second-longest in Australian Open history, as the Briton claimed victory shortly after 04:00 local time.

Murray, though, sees no benefit of playing so deep into the night.

"I don't know who it is beneficial for," he said in a press conference. "We come here after the match, and that's what discussion is [about], rather than it being [on an] epic match.

"It ends in a bit of a farce. Amazingly, people stayed until the end. I really appreciate people doing that, creating an atmosphere for us.

"Some people need to work the following day. If my child was a ball kid for a tournament [and] they are coming home at five in the morning, I'm snapping at that.

"It's not beneficial for them, it's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. It's not good for the players. We talk about it all the time. When you start the night matches, these things are going to happen."

Murray's career appeared to reach a potential end at this very tournament four years ago due to his longstanding hip issues, and it is a testament to his determination that he remains capable of going the distance in matches.

But he acknowledged there could be a health risk from long encounters such as this one, adding: "Potentially. It's strange because the courts are fast.

"When we started tonight, it felt like there was no pressure in the ball. It's just difficult to hit winners. There was a 70-shot rally yesterday, which is not normal. [We] probably need to look at that."

Kokkinakis was blunter in his assessment, posting on Twitter: "This f****** sport, man."

Murray, a five-time finalist in Melbourne, will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, having progressed to that stage of the Australian Open for the first time since 2017.

Related items

  • Emma Raducanu promises more after reaching Stuttgart Open quarter-finals Emma Raducanu promises more after reaching Stuttgart Open quarter-finals

    Emma Raducanu says the best is yet to come as she continued her excellent form by making it through to the quarter-final of the Stuttgart Open.

    The 2021 US Open champion beat Linda Noskova 6-0 7-5 in Germany to set up a mouth-watering last-eight tie with world number one Iga Swiatek on Friday.

    Raducanu is making her way back after a torrid 2023 but looked excellent in winning her two ties in the Billie Jean King Cup at the weekend and then followed that up by swatting home favourite Angelique Kerber aside in Wednesday’s first round.

    She stepped it up again to dispose of the world number 31 to set up a repeat of the 2022 quarter-final with Swiatek.

    Despite all her troubles since winning the US Open in 2021, Raducanu never doubted the good times would return.

    “I am not too surprised because I have been working really hard on the training court and I knew it was just a matter of time,” she said in her on-court interview.

    “This isn’t my best I still have a long way to go. I am just really happy the rewards are starting to come on the match court.

    “You know how it is when you are training day in, day out you feel like the results aren’t going your way. It is never that far away, that is something I am learning.

    “Going through everything I have been through gives you a different appreciation, there is nothing like playing in front of fans and playing good tennis.”

    Her progress will face its toughest test when against the Polish world number one, who is a master of the clay court, but the Briton knows she is not under any pressure.

    Raducanu, whose world ranking of 303 will shoot up, added: “We played here two years ago in the quarters, I have come a long way in two years, and she has achieved a lot, I have nothing to lose, I can swing and enjoy it.

    “Hopefully recover in time. I’m good.”

  • Emma Raducanu records impressive victory over Angelique Kerber in Stuttgart Emma Raducanu records impressive victory over Angelique Kerber in Stuttgart

    Emma Raducanu claimed an emphatic 6-2 6-1 win over former two-time champion Angelique Kerber in the last 32 of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

    Fresh from helping Great Britain reach the finals of the Billie Jean Cup at the weekend, Raducanu continued her promising form on clay by breezing past the home favourite.

    Both Raducanu and Kerber were playing as wild cards in Stuttgart, with the Briton tumbling down the rankings after time out to undergo three surgeries.

    Meanwhile former world number one Kerber only recently returned from 18 months out on maternity leave.

    Raducanu got off to a flying start by breaking Kerber in the opening game and despite an immediate response from the German, the 2021 US Open champion took control and claimed the first set in 41 minutes.

    Kerber was broken again at the start of the second set and although she managed to haul back level, Raducanu stepped up a gear and shrugged off a brief visit from the trainer to wrap up an emphatic win.

    Also in Stuttgart, reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff rallied from 4-2 down in the deciding set to overcome fellow American and world number 134 Sachia Vickery 6-3 4-6 7-5.

    And Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur finally snapped a five-game losing streak to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 2-6 6-3 7-6 (1), telling reporters: “I thought about withdrawing so many times because I couldn’t take another loss.”

    In Rouen, Naomi Osaka’s return to clay was cut short by a 6-4 6-2 first round defeat to Martina Trevisan.

    Like Kerber, Osaka only recently returned to the tour following maternity leave, and was competing as a wild card.

    In the Oeiras Ladies Open in Portugal, Britain’s fifth-seeded Harriet Dart suffered a 6-3 6-1 defeat to home player Matilde Jorge.

  • Rafael Nadal’s Barcelona Open hopes ended by Alex de Minaur Rafael Nadal’s Barcelona Open hopes ended by Alex de Minaur

    Rafael Nadal’s latest comeback bid came to an end as he was well beaten 7-5 6-1 by fourth seed Alex de Minaur at the Barcelona Open.

    The 37-year-old was playing just his second tournament in 15 months after suffering another hip problem at his comeback event in Brisbane in January.

    And having intimated that this will be his final year before retirement, Nadal’s defeat was likely to mark his final appearance at a tournament he has won 12 times.

    Having overcome Italian Flavio Cobolli in the opening round, Nadal faced a much sterner test against the in-form De Minaur and was sent scampering around the court in a tight opening set which was edged by the Australian.

    De Minaur went on to step up a gear, securing a double break over the Spaniard and racing over the line behind a strong service game on which he did not drop a single point in the second set.

    Jack Draper made the most of a rain delay to defeat wild card Rudolf Molleker and reach the quarter-finals of the BMW Open in Munich.

    German Molleker, ranked 179th, had been the better player in the first set but a brief stoppage ahead of the second set changed the momentum of the contest.

    Draper began to assert his powerful game after the resumption and lost only two more games, pulling away to claim a 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory.

    In the last eight the British number two, who is ranked 46th, will take on either third seed Taylor Fritz or Spanish qualifier Alejandro Moro Canas.

    Speaking in an on-court interview, Draper said: “I think Rudy played an amazing level in the first set. The conditions were very rainy and very slow. In the second and third, the sun comes out and I start feeling better. I’m really proud of the way I played.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.