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Curbing late finishes will make tennis more professional: Murray

Andy Murray has welcomed a move by global tennis bodies to minimise the scourge of late finishes, saying it will make the game “a wee bit” more professional.

The British veteran’s five-hour, 45-minute epic against Thanasi Kokkinakis at last year’s Australian Open led to renewed calls for change.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray memorably asked during his gruelling victory: “Why are we playing at 3 am?”. The match finally ended at 4:05 am.

In a bid to tackle the issue, the ATP and WTA, the governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis, said this week that no match on their tours would now start after 11:00 pm.

In addition, evening sessions would begin at 7:30 pm at the latest.

“It just makes sense. It’s a very obvious thing that needs to change,” Murray said in Melbourne on Friday on the eve of this year’s Australian Open.

“I haven’t heard anyone really disagree with that. So, yeah, it’s positive that there’s going to be some changes made. 

“It will be good for I think everyone. I primarily would think about it from a player’s perspective, it will definitely help with recovery for the following day’s matches.”

“I certainly think for fans and the tournament, just probably looks a wee bit more professional if you’re not finishing at three, four in the morning,” he added.

The measures will be introduced only for tournaments on the ATP and WTA tours. The four Grand Slams, including the Australian Open, have their own rules.

To curb the problem, the Australian Open has become a 15-day event rather than 14, starting on Sunday to spread out the early-round action to prevent late-night finishes.

But Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, was sceptical.

“I don’t think the Sunday start will change the late finishes,” said the 36-year-old. 

“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 Arena.

“(But) my understanding is that on the other show courts, that’s not changing, so there still is the possibility for that to happen.”

Murray gets his tournament under way against Argentine 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry and could meet world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round.

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