ATP and WTA Tours introduce rules to prevent late finishes

Alexander Zverev playing in Mexico Open in Acapulco
Image caption,Zverev criticised the late finish after he and Brooksby set a new record for the latest finish to a tennis match

By Russell Fuller

BBC tennis correspondent

New rules have been introduced which should prevent matches running after 11pm on both the ATP and WTA Tours.

The tours have announced no more than five matches per day should be scheduled on each court.

It is an attempt to reduce persistent late finishes, which the tours say “negatively impact players and fans”.

In February 2022 in Acapulco, Germany’s Alexander Zverev beat Jenson Brooksby of the US at 4:55am in the latest finish to a professional match.

Matches regularly begin after midnight, so it is hoped fewer matches will reduce the chance of a late finish.

However, matches will be allowed to go on court after 11pm if approved by the tournament supervisor. And tournaments will be able to request waivers based on the weather conditions or local cultural traditions “in exceptional circumstances”.

The tours have also recommended night sessions should begin no later than 7.30, and ideally an hour earlier.

The rules will be trialled throughout 2024, with a further review to follow at the end of the year.

The Grand Slams have their own rules and, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of Andy Murray’s 4:05am finish against Thanasi Kokkinakis last January, the Australian Open has altered its schedule this year.

The night session will start at 7pm but there will only be two matches played on the main show courts in the afternoon to try to enable the night session to start on time.

Late-night finishes have long come under criticism by players and Murray said the late finish was a “farce” after the five-hour-45-minute match.

World number three Jessica Pegula, who is on the WTA players’ council, has said it is “ridiculous to be asking people to be there at that time”, including fans, media and ball kids.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam with a curfew and matches are cut off at 11pm.

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