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John McEnroe Slams 'Absurd' Australian Open Rule After Andy Murray Win

John McEnroe Slams 'Absurd' Australian Open Rule After Andy Murray Win
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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Andy Murray has put on a superhuman display thus far at the Australian Open, coming through two marathon matches to progress to the third round.

Four years ago the Scotsman tearfully told the press just before the Australian Open that he would have to consider retirement if his injury problems did not abate. A metal cap was inserted into his hip to prolong his playing career, but there were still plenty of bumps since that fateful 2019 tournament.

Remarkably, he soldiers on, with Thursday's victory over Thonasi Kokkinakis being his toughest yet. The match started at 8pm Melbourne time, and did not conclude until after 4am at the Rod Laver Arena, in a shocking mockery of the tournament's scheduling.

During and after the match, Murray slammed the scheduling of the match and the lack of player welfare displayed by the tournament organisers, and he has now found support in American legend John McEnroe, who questions how tennis can expect to compare to the biggest sporting events in the world when these instances occur.

John McEnroe questions viability of 4am finishes after controversial Andy Murray match

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Even though it was an anomaly, Andy Murray's match with Thonasi Kokkinakis was a surreal indictment of the lack of consideration for player welfare at the highest level. In the absence of a "cut-off time" at the Australian Open, Murray was on the court for approximately six hours, before eventually coming out on top in a five-set thriller 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The players were only afforded one toilet break in the closing stages of the game, with Murray arguing with the match umpire over this decision. Murray would also go on to question the welfare of young tennis fans who volunteer as ball retrievers, questioning how it is acceptable for such participants to be arriving home at 5am.

One suggestion has been the implementation of a "cut-off time", whereby play would be curtailed at a certain point, irregardless of how much of the match was left to play.

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Responding to Andy Murray's comments, John McEnroe has called for such a measure to be introduced, saying that the situation was "absurd" and had the potential to harm Murray's chances deeper in the tournament:

This happens rarely, but to me they should ensure that this doesn't happen - it is crazy to have players play to this hour at this level with so much at stake. To me it's just absurd that the players are playing, it's going to be a match people talk about, but it's also a match that greatly affects Andy's chances of going deeper in the tournament.

This has happened in the past, it's affected the players each and every time. What other sport - the World Cup, American football, NBA - are they playing at four in the morning? And you're talking about two individuals out there by themselves, there's no chance for a substitution.

It is absolutely absurd that these things happen, I know that it wasn't planned that way and obviously factors go into it - the length of previous matches, whether the weather is a factor, I get it. But as a sport we can't have that continue to happen, there's got to be some type of cut-off point.

Andy Murray moves on to the third round against 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut at 8am Irish time on Saturday morning.

SEE ALSO: Australian Open Hero Michael Mmoh Has Irish Blood

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