Australian Open schedule farce: Craig Tiley’s stubbornness threatens “Happy Slam”

Craig Tiley’s decree that the schedule cannot possibly be changed, even after the last absurd 4 o’clock finish, reeks of arrogance. Julian Linden says something needs to change at the top.

Craig Tiley’s reluctance to change the absurd late-night schedule at the Australian Open shows you all that went wrong with the not-so-‘happy’ slam.

Spoken like someone out of touch with what players and paying viewers want, Tiley’s decree that the schedule is too hard to change even after the blockbuster’s absurd 4am ending between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis smacks of arrogance .

Of course it can be changed.

Match planning is tricky, especially when it’s raining, but it’s not rocket science either.

None of the other Grand Slam tennis tournaments continue playing this late, so it’s an outlier that the Australian Open can’t.

At a time when the physical and mental health of athletes is once again under scrutiny, there is simply no justification for sending players onto the court at 4am.

But the saddest thing about the whole thing is that player desires don’t seem to matter.

For years, players have begged the Australian Open organizers to correct the tournament’s absurd planning, but nothing ever changes.

It is already an indictment for sports leaders that the first Grand Slam of each year takes place in January, in the middle of the Australian summer.

Not only is it shortening the ever-shortening off-season, but the scorching temperatures pose real health risks.

Players have literally fainted, suffered heat stress, experienced hallucinations and been intravenously infused after melting under the suffocating conditions.

The sport’s biggest names – Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Martina Navratilova – have lobbied for years to change the dates, but nobody seems to be listening.

Now Murray is the latest to join the chorus calling for change.

He wants those ridiculous late-night matches out of a tin – and he’s not the only one.

Like the others, Murray is a hugely respected character in the game who doesn’t often bite the hand that feeds him. So when he’s talking about something he feels strong about, Tiley should really pay attention.

Let’s not forget that Murray won his marathon match against Kokkinakis, so his complaints about the timing and lack of action from the admins weren’t those of a bad loser.

But Tiley had none of it. As soon as the sun came up, he was on breakfast TV, reminding everyone that he’s the boss and that what he says counts.

No one should be surprised as this has been his modus operandi for years, but in this case, as so often in other cases, the South African-born Tiley failed to read the room.

While he rightly deserves plenty of credit for turning the Australian Open into the mega cash cow event it has become, he has also faced accusations that he is all about the money.

He’s never far from the cameras when Australian Open winners are presented with their trophies, but when the pressure is on – like last year during the Novak Djokovic vaccination saga – he’s harder to find than ‘where’s Wally’.

It is sometimes said that the true test of leadership is being able to create meaningful change.

If the Australian Open is ever to be known as the Happy Slam again, something has to change at the top.

Originally posted as comment: Craig Tiley’s reluctance to change Australian Open schedule threatens ‘happy slam’ Australian Open schedule farce: Craig Tiley’s stubbornness threatens “Happy Slam”

Ryan Sederquist

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