When Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka set out to defend their Australian Open titles in January, they’ll be doing so with more time to spare.
The Australian Open announced that the 2024 edition of the tournament will begin on January 14 — the first time the competition will begin on a Sunday instead of a Monday, expanding it to 15 days.
It’s a response to data showing that the length of tennis matches is increasing and, thus, many night sessions at majors have been stretching into the early morning hours. At the 2023 tournament, Andy Murray defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in a six-hour epic that ended after 4 a.m. local time, and he was critical of the scheduling.
“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,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said. “The additional day will achieve this, benefiting scheduling for fans and players alike.”
The change will also carry the benefit of increasing the number of sessions on featured courts from 47 to 52.
Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena will reduce the minimum number of day session matches from three to two, but will leave the night session minimum of two unchanged. The schedule at John Cain Arena also will not change.
The Australian Open set both single-day (94,854) and full-tournament (839,192) attendance records in 2023. Adding another day to the schedule would seem to get them closer to the 1 million-per-tournament mark.