Exhausted Murray has energy to blast officials after late night finish
Jan 20 (Reuters) - An exhausted Andy Murray still had enough left in the tank to blast officials after an epic five-set match at the Australian Open finished after 4 a.m. on Friday (1700 GMT on Thursday), well beyond the usual Grand Slam midnight madness.
As fans trudged home for a few hours sleep after watching Murray rally from two sets and 2-5 down to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-3 7-5, the fired up Scot labelled organisers "disrespectful."
Murray said he respected the rules but criticised having to play until the early hours of the morning "and you're not allowed to go and take a piss."
"It's a joke, it's a joke. You know it as well," he added.
"It's disrespectful to you, disrespectful to the ball children, disrespectful to the players and we are not allowed to go to the toilet.
The Australian Open routinely has matches run past midnight but former Grand Slam champion John McEnroe called on officials to implement rules so it never happens so late again.
"I am stunned in disbelief that they were still playing at that hour," McEnroe told Eurosport. "For starters, it was insane that matches at that level are played 4 to 4:30 a.m. in the morning."
Tournament director Craig Tiley, though, said there was no need to tinker with the schedule at this point.
"At this point, we've got to fit those matches in the 14 days, so you don't have many options," he told Channel Nine.
"It was an epic match and when you schedule a match like that just before 10 p.m. in the evening before, you're not expecting it to go close to six hours."
Tiley pointed out that several hours had been lost due to delays caused by extreme heat and rain this week.
"You don't often get those conditions in such a short period of time so we've had three late nights with scheduling trying to catch up with matches," Tiley added.
Most elite sports do not hold their biggest events into the wee hours of the morning after most fans have gone to bed, although late matches in Australia are daytime viewing in the big European TV markets.
The latest finish for a match at the Australian Open was 4.34 am in 2008, when local Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis battled it out in a third round match that started at 11.47pm.
Murray got little sympathy from third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday after the Greek played his third-round match in the afternoon sunshine.
"It started at a reasonable time, I would say," he said. "There's a rule in place. They didn't break any rule. The match started at 10 pm. Kokkinakis made it long. Murray made it long, too.
"I think tennis likes these kind of matches because there's a great story behind this match, and it's going to be remembered.
"I do remember very vividly that Baghdatis played with Hewitt. It is definitely a very magical moment, if not for the one who loses because it's painful."
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