Australian Open moves to 15-day event

Featured image credit: Australian Open

The Australian Open has announced that the opening grand slam of the tennis season will become a 15-day event for the first time next year, in an effort to eliminate the late-night finishes that have concerned both players and fans.

The Melbourne Park-based tournament will now take place from January 14-28 next year, with organisers stating the move to a Sunday start reflects data that shows matches are now lasting longer.

Indeed, this year’s Open featured a notable example of this with Andy Murray’s match against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis not finishing until 4.05am local time after starting at 10pm the night before, a situation the British five-time finalist labelled as a “farce”.

The Sunday start increases the number of sessions in the three arenas from 47 to 52. The day session at Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena will feature a minimum of two matches, down from three, to limit the potential of late finishes. Night sessions will continue to feature a minimum of two matches and the John Cain Arena schedule remains the same.

“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,” said Australian Open tournament director, Craig Tiley.

“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.”

Organisers said a “raft of exciting initiatives” for Australian Open 2024, along with the return of many fan favourites, will be revealed next week before tickets go on sale from October 12.

This year’s Australian Open set a new record attendance for a grand slam tennis tournament, as 902,312 fans turned out across three weeks of competition.

The figure included the tournament itself and the qualifying events, which attracted 63,120 fans. The main tournament welcomed 839,192 fans through the gates, breaking the Australian Open’s previous record of 812,174, which was set in 2020.