Australian Midnight Open
Australian Midnight Open.
The Australian Open tennis tournament director is under pressure to resign for it.
Australia’s top seeded player is furious about it.
Three quarters of ticket holders decided not to wait around for it.
The Australian Open is always a long two weeks but you know you’re in for an extra late finish when the first photographer to get the ‘night off’ leaves at 11.30pm. The seed was planted during the afternoon when world number one Roger Federer, in a display of failing form, took well over 4 hours to subdue his third round opponent. As a result the evening session didn’t kick off until almost 10pm. The night wore on and as the ranks in the court side photographer’s pit thinned Darren Whiteside and I carried the Reuters flag for the second match on the sched which started close to midnight. Crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus up against local bad boy Lleyton Hewitt. And what do you know? It was a five setter 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3…..
Spectators fell asleep, ball boys fell asleep, and journalists fell asleep but not us. This match smashed a new late finish record, with Hewitt putting down the winning serve at about 4.37am the following day. Throw in post match editing, organising gear for the following day and packing up, we got to our hotel around 5.45am and I pulled the covers over my head just as the sun began to rise.
We’d had 17 straight hours on court shooting with hard seats, bad food and bloodshot eyes but we’re smacking our lips for more.