Australian Open director Craig Tiley says event organisers have listened to “players and fans” after confirming the first grand slam of 2024 would start a day earlier to avoid marathon night sessions that stretched into early morning.
The tournament will now start on Sunday, January 14 and become a 15-day event for the first time.
It comes as data shows matches go for longer, with the move meaning the event will cover three weekends for the first time. It is designed to take the pressure off both players and fans after complaints from both following late starting and late finishing night games.
“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,” Tiley said.
“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.”
Earlier this year, Andy Murray branded it a “farce” when his match against Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis did not finish until 4.05am after starting at 10pm the night before.
In 2008, Lleyton Hewitt beat Marcos Baghdatis at 4.34am.
The Sunday start increases the number of playing sessions from 47 to 52.
Among other changes, 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 also remains the same.
The first round of play will now be run over three days instead of two.
The Australian Open will take place at Melbourne Park from January 14-28, 2024.