Novak Djokovic has stormed into his 10th Australian Open men’s singles final without playing a single match in the daytime – as the tournament is accused of showing ‘extreme’ favouritism towards the Serbian star.
Djokovic has looked unbeatable in his 18th outing at the Melbourne grand slam, only dropping a single set throughout his campaign.
Novak Djokovic hasn’t played a single daytime at this year’s Australian Open – which may be a first for the tournament
Djokovic has looked unbeatable in his 18th outing at the Melbourne major, only dropping a single set in his campaign – but he’s had one huge advantage
However, some have called into question the integrity of the tournament, with the 21-time grand slam champion given an ‘extreme’ competitive advantage with his match scheduling.
Djokovic has played seven night matches at Rod Laver Arena – something that’s never happened before at the Australian Open, according to sports reporter Catherine Whittaker.
‘Top players get preferential treatment in terms of scheduling. Goodness knows,’ said Whittaker on The Tennis Podcast.
‘This is not news. This is not Djokovic specific by any means, but it is a bit extreme.
‘I don’t think there’s ever been anybody who played all seven matches at night before [at the Australian Open].’
Djokovic’s seven matches night matches at Rod Laver Arena is something that’s never happened before, according to sports reporter Catherine Whittaker
She continued: ‘Doesn’t there reach a stage of the tournament where sporting integrity steps in?
‘Both his last two losses [at the Australian Open] came in day sessions… I still think he’d be in the final if he’d played every match in the day session, I’m just saying it makes a difference. It’s not nothing.’
Whittaker hasn’t been the only one to point out the unusual scheduling during the Australian Open, with tennis fans on social media making a point of it.
‘Go through the past 15 editions and let me know if anyone ever received a p*** easy draw as Djokovic in 2023. Day/night matches, roof open/closed etc. as per his wish are just additional perks,’ commented one Twitter user.
Whittaker hasn’t been the only one to point out the unusual scheduling during the Australian Open, with tennis fans on social media making a point of it
‘7/7 night games for Novak Djokovic, the ever simplest draw to the final, while supposedly injured,’ said another.
‘Djokovic playing ALL 7 (assuming he beats Paul) matches at night is certainly something very unique. You can go through the past 15 editions, and I’ve not seen a single player/finalist play ALL 7 at night. I’ve seen 6/7, but never 7/7,’ said a third.
In 2018, Roger Federer was accused of getting preferential treatment at the Australian Open and on the ATP World Tour.
French player Julien Benneteau caused a stir during an interview when he said tournament officials were kinder to Federer by giving him night games and letting him avoid the January heat in Melbourne.
Djokovic leapt to the defence of Federer at the time, saying he deserves to be treated differently to less famous stars.
Djokovic leapt to the defence of Federer who was accused of receiving preferential treatment in 2018, saying he deserves to be given special treatment
‘In the end of the day, in a way he deserves the special treatment because he’s six-time champion of Australian Open and arguably the best player ever,’ Djokovic said.
‘If he doesn’t have it, who is going to have it? People want to see him play on the centre court, and they want to see him play in showtime, the best hours, which is 7.30 at night in Rod Laver Arena.
‘I understand Julien’s point because sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favoured year after year in certain tournaments.
‘On the other side, you have to understand that Federer is a driving force of tennis in terms of revenue, in terms of attention.’
Novak Djokovic will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night, and will be aiming to claim his 22nd major title and 10th Australian Open trophy.
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