Late night finishes the unique part of Tennis
Tennis Broadcaster Brett Phillips has defended the late finish of Thursday night's Thanasi Kokkanakis and Andy Murray clash.
The contest did not finish until well after 4am on Friday morning after starting at 10pm, with tournament organisers coming in for criticism for the scheduling, including from a frustrated Murray during the match and in his on-court interview.
“I’ve spoken to a few different people this morning, there’s this cry for ‘why the hell are we playing at 4am in the morning’. Well, this is the unique part about tennis, there’s a clock on the match, but there’s no clock counting down to end the match, it’s when the match finishes, it’s a unique part of tennis,” Phillips said.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, whether it’s the Australian Open, US Open, yeah, there’s some late night finishes, but 4am is not the norm, and TV broadcasters are obviously a huge part of tennis, even if you brought the day session forward to 10am, you start the night session at six, that’s not going to get a TV broadcast deal.
“There’s all this sort of unknown when a tennis match starts, and it just adds to the uniqueness of tennis, if you like, when you get a match that finishes that late.”
British veteran Murray, outlasted Kokkinakis in a five set thriller on Margaret Court Arena.
The Scotsman roared back from a two set deficit to beat Kokkinakis 4-6 6-7 7-6 6-3 7-5, a monumental effort from the 35 year old on the comeback trail from major hip surgery.
“People just admire someone that’s put themselves through so much physically, to the point where he’s been told by doctors ‘you should not be playing, you should absolutely hang up the racquet’, and he went to every degree around the world to find surgeons who could repair that hip, and he just wanted to keep competing,” Phillips said.
“He’s playing every point at the same intensity, it reminds of Nadal, in a sense, so he’s not fixed on the scoreboard, he’s just thinking ‘okay, where do I get an opening here’.
“He’s so good at reading his opponent in terms of the way they’re constructing points, where can he expose a weakness … the door was just a little ajar for Andy to work his way back.”
Phillips remains optimistic about Kokkinakis’ outlook, despite the 26 year old failing to capitalise on a golden chance to progress to the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time.
“That’s a missed opportunity, no doubt. The thing we think about Thanasi is he’s got all the tools, he’s got a great serve, he’s got a big forehand, his body’s now durable, but I still question whether he is working as hard as the other players on tour to be the best that he can be,” Phillips said.
“This is the question with all the Aussies, because they sort of ride this wave of adrenaline for a few weeks, they’re playing at home, they’ve got a full house supporting them just for about two, three weeks of the year, they don’t get that for the rest of the year … it’s a long year, one match, one tournament doesn’t define the year.
“He should take a lot of confidence about where he’s at, and I think he does. He said it in Adelaide at the start of the year, he knows he’s just got to do everything a little bit better, and then the improvement will continue to come.”
Alex de Minaur, who beat plucky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, and Alexei Popyrin, who defeated American number 10 seed Taylor Fritz, are now the only Australian hopes left in the singles draw, after Kokkinakis, John Millman, Jason Kubler, and Rinky Hijikata all went down in the second round.