Worsley at the Aussie Open: The Australian Open is letting itself down

Spectators staying up late to get their money's worth
Spectators staying up late to get their money's worth Photo credit: Image: Getty

OPINION: Tennis is best at serving an ace into its own foot and racquet into its mouth. Forget about the alphabet soup of acronyms from ATP, ITF, TA, WTA etc which run the sport into confusion, it's the late, late nights which don't help.

This time it's the Australian Open second round match featuring Aussie-born Brit, Jo Konta against former world Number 1, Garbine Muguruza of Spain. And all credit should got to both players who put on a great display of tennis considering their match started at 12.30am Melbourne time.

Unfortunately, instead of being played in front of a large audience which the match deserved, they found themselves in front of a sparsely occurpied hardy/silly few spectators.

Sure there were some long matches on the same court and a very short rain delay which held things up, but that's not an excuse.

Eventually the match ended with the Spaniard winning 6-4, 6-7 (3) 7-5 after two hours 42 minutes at 3.12am local time.

There were plans to shift the court from Margaret Court Arena to Court 3 earlier in the evening, however, bizarrely it was found there was too much seagull poo on the court and it was too difficult to clean off. Seriously you can't make this stuff up.

There were other big courts still available, but not used.

Yes Konta receives A$106,000 for losing in the second round and some are saying that's enough to get over sleep deprivation. Actually it's not. When you're an athlete who plans your day, or several days around a match it's unhealthy. Konta even said as much on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I don't agree with athletes having to physically exert themselves in the wee hours of the morning. I don't think it's healthy. I think it's quite dangerous."

But it's not just Konta or Muguruza who should be considered or taken pity. There are ballkids on the court and they also need to be picked up and taken home afterwards. What about the lines people, court service crew, TV commentators, tournament doctors, physios, transportation staff, transcribers in the media, media staff, British and Spanish media, racquet stringers and the list goes on. And all of these groups listed don't get paid well and do have to turn up the next day.

Could the players have been re-scheduled for the next day? Yes. Would it have disrupted ticketing or TV? Perhaps a little, but nothing to the extent which it was in the end.

It seems like the tournament director and tournament referee take pleasure in their late nights and wants to be known for going longer than rival the US Open.

Surprisingly, for many, this match wasn't the latest at the Aussie Open. Wahoo! We have a record, let's celebrate, oops no we can't, we've fallen asleep.

The latest finish in Australian Open history was a 2008 third-round match between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis that ended at 04:34 - and there was a media conference after that.

From personal experience the rest of the day was a blur. Hewitt lost the next round. The previous latest start for a women's match was 11.59pm last year.

Odds are that Muguruza will lose her third round match to Swiss player Timea Bacsinszky.

If TV money was behind the match being played then the contest in question would have missed the bulk of the valuable Asian audience for the Aussie Open which is two hours behind Melbourne.

A solution? Grow up Australian Open. Matches like this do nothing but feed your own ego and create more issues than they solve.

Dave Worsley is a Newshub sports reporter, covering his 21st Australian Open.