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HomeSportsTennis Needs to Change: Medvedev's Late Finish at 3.40am Highlights Absurdity

Tennis Needs to Change: Medvedev’s Late Finish at 3.40am Highlights Absurdity

Tennis Players Battle into the Night

It happened again. Of course it did. Two tennis players, starting near midnight, battling nearly to sunrise in front of a scattering of fans, with a squad of kids in their early teenage years scurrying after balls at nearly four in the morning.

Last year it was Andy Murray duelling with Thanasi Kokkinakis until the night sky began to lighten at around 4am. On Thursday, and into Friday, it was Daniil Medvedev of Russia and Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland doing the tennis version of the 2am jazz set.

“I would not have stayed,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview after he completed his comeback from two sets down and eliminated Ruusuvuori 3-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-0. Judging from the scoreline, Ruusuvuori decided not to and it was hard to blame him.

The dynamic would seem absurd if it wasn’t so routine. The main two tournaments where this happens, the Australian and U.S. Opens, seem to treat this as a badge of honor rather than a serious risk for the players involved, especially the one that wins the match, gets to bed some time around 6am, then has to come back the next day.

Medvedev was floating around Melbourne Park by mid-afternoon on Friday after grabbing a strange night of sleep and trying to figure out how to prepare for his Saturday evening match against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.

“I wake up for my match today at 7 and I’m sure that’s when he went to sleep,” Karen Khachanov, Medvedev’s good friend and fellow Russian said on Friday after his win over Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic.

“There should be certain limits because especially the best-of-five, you know that match can go up to five hours and then you start at 11pm. This is not normal, not healthy for anybody to recover, to get ready for the next day, the next match. You lose a complete night of sleep. Sleeping is part of the recovery, one of the biggest parts. The food, everything we do, treatments, ice baths. All this stuff and you don’t sleep. So how are you going to feel the next day?”

Image of tennis match at night

However, tennis being tennis, with seven different organizations empowered to enact their own rules with little input from active players, the four most important tournaments — Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and the French Open — do not have to follow this rule.

Pressure from the PTPA – as well as Jannik Sinner’s decision to pull out of the Paris Masters in November after he won a match that started at 12.30am and finished at nearly 3am — helped force officials with the men’s and women’s tours, the ATP and the WTA, to agree to prohibit matches from starting after 11pm as of next year.

Matches scheduled for a court that is still being used after 10.30pm will be moved to another court and both tours have told tournament organizers they want night sessions to begin at 6.30pm rather than 7 or 7.30pm, with no more than two matches on the night schedule.


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