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ATP, WTA introduce new rules to curb late-night tennis matches

Posted : 10 January 2024

Tennis governing bodies ATP and WTA Tours have implemented new regulations aiming to avoid matches extending beyond 11pm. The measures include a cap of five matches per day on each court, with the intention to address persistent late-night finishes that adversely affect both players and fans.


This move comes after a notable late finish in February 2022 when Alexander Zverev defeated Jenson Brooksby at 4:55 am in Acapulco, setting a record for the latest conclusion to a professional tennis match. Given that matches frequently commence post-midnight, the new scheduling strategy aims to minimize the likelihood of matches extending into the early hours.


While the tours aim for matches to conclude by 11pm, tournaments may seek approval from the supervisor to extend play beyond this time. Exceptions may be considered based on weather conditions or local cultural traditions, as determined in "exceptional circumstances."


The tours also advocate for night sessions to commence no later than 7:30 pm, preferably an hour earlier. These regulations will undergo a trial period throughout 2024, with a comprehensive review planned at the year's end.


In an effort to facilitate timely night sessions, main show courts will host only two matches in the afternoon. The Grand Slam events, such as the Australian Open, have their own rules, with the Australian Open adjusting its schedule this year to avoid a recurrence of the late-night match involving Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis.


Criticism from players, including world number three Jessica Pegula, underscores the challenges late-night finishes pose for various stakeholders, including fans, media, and ball kids. Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam with a curfew, with matches concluding by 11pm.


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