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Organisers relieved as Jannik Sinner avoids late Australian Open show

Sinner applauds after the match
Sinner applauds after the matchReuters
Australian Open organisers were breathing a sigh of relief as Tuesday's schedule concluded at the relatively 'early' time of just before 1.30am but scheduling issues were again on the agenda for the year's first Grand Slam.

Coco Gauff's clash with Marta Kostyuk ran for over three hours meaning Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz did not even get onto Rod Laver Arena until almost 5pm local time -- much later than they would have expected.

The Serbian top seed and his American opponent battled for close to four hours, meaning the evening session opener between Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova began two hours late at 9pm.

The fact that Sabalenka won 6-2, 6-3 in 71 minutes at least enabled men's fourth seed Jannik Sinner and fifth seed Andrey Rublev to start their duel at 10.30pm.

Sinner prevailed in straight sets so a repeat of last week's late show when Daniil Medvedev came from two sets down to beat Emil Ruusuvuori in a match that finished at 3.40am was avoided.

With Djokovic and Fritz locked in battle, Sabalenka said she and her opponent had been given the choice to move their match to the Margaret Court Arena, rather than Rod Laver.

"But we just decided to see how the Djokovic-Fritz match will go. If it's going to be too long, then we agreed for the possibility to be moved," the defending champion said.

"Novak won the third and fourth sets, so we just went on court as normal."

The 25-year-old said it was important for a quarter-final to be held on the main showcourt.

"Of course it would be much better to start at 7pm but you can't control other matches," Sabalenka added.

"I just tried to focus on myself and wait a bit longer. It's not that bad ... It is how it is and we have to adapt quickly to the conditions. We did it well."

NOT IDEAL

Djokovic said it was "not ideal" for Sinner and Rublev to go onto the court as late as they did but did not agree that he would have any sort of advantage for his clash with Sinner on Friday.

"We've seen in the past some late finishes. I know for the crowds and the tournament in a way it's kind of exciting to see a 4am finish, a 3am finish," Djokovic said.

"I was part of some of those. But it's definitely not fun for us. The good thing about the quarter-finalists on the men's (top) section (of the draw) is we have two days (off).

"So that's plenty of time to get a good sleep and recover."

It is a complicated procedure to keep fans, players and broadcasters happy and Djokovic said there is no easy fix for the scheduling issues that impact the Australian Open, French Open and US Open, where tickets are sold separately for day and evening sessions.

"Maybe scheduling less matches on the centre court, doing it in one session, which is most likely not going to happen because every session carries a lot of economical value for them," the Serb added.

"So of course they're going to communicate it and try it that way, try to get as many people for different sessions.

"You know, TV broadcasting channels have the biggest power. We know that. Which is not unusual because they are the ones that are giving us the stage, the platform to reach out to millions of people around the world, which is great for us."

Sinner admitted that at one stage on Tuesday, he did not know where his match was going to be played.

"But it's a huge pleasure to play quarters in a Grand Slam so doesn't really matter the court," he said. "Obviously when you play centre court it's more of a privilege because you can feel it, you know, with the walk-on and everything.

"In my mind I knew if I win I have two days off, which even if you potentially finish very late, you can recover. But in this moment, you don't watch the clock."

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