Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray agree that the Australian Open schedule needs to be reviewed to avoid having night-time matches finish as late as the morning.

The topic of match scheduling has come under the spotlight following Murray’s marathon five-set win over Thanasi Kokkinakis that did not finish until after 4am AEDT on Friday.

Murray had less than 48 hours to recover and prepare for his third-round match against Roberto Bautista Agut on Saturday night, which the Spaniard won in four sets.

Murray, whose physical struggles were clear to see against Bautista Agut, acknowledged “long matches can happen” but the effect of late finishes on the players needed to be considered.

Andy Murray bent over as he gathers his breath during an Australian Open match.
An exhausted Murray struggled physically during his match against Roberto Bautista Agut.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

“I’m sure if you went and spoke to some sleep experts and sports scientists — the people that actually really know what’s important for athletes to recover — they would tell you that sleep is the number-one thing, that that’s the most important thing,” Murray said.

“Finishing matches at four in the morning isn’t good for the players. I would also argue it’s not good for the sport, [or] anyone involved in it.”

Murray said there were “some quite simple things” Australian Open organisers could look at to make the schedule more player-friendly.

“I think the US Open went to playing two matches in the day session,” he said.

“That would stop the day matches, running into the night session, starting too late.

“I think that’s quite a simple one that you could look at.

“You’d still get quality matches during the day. The people who bought ground passes would get to see more of the top players, which would be excellent for them.

“I think if you did that, you could also potentially bring [forward] the night sessions slightly earlier as well, like [starting at] 6pm or 6:30pm.

“That time, those few hours, can make a difference to the players. I think that’s something that’s probably worth considering moving forwards.”

‘It’s gruelling’

Djokovic backed up Murray, saying schedule changes needed to be made to suit players.

“I think that players’ input is always important for tournament organisation,” Djokovic said after his third-round win over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday night.

“Whether it’s decisive, we know that it’s not, because it comes down to what the TV broadcasters want to have. That’s the ultimate decision-maker.

Novak Djokovic sits on the court on Rod Laver Arena after taking a fall.
Novak Djokovic says late finishes take a toll on players.(Gewtty Images: Mackenzie Sweetnam)

“I agree with him [Murray]. I think for us players … for the crowd, it’s entertaining, it’s exciting, to have matches [at] midnight, 1, 2, 3am.

“For us, it’s gruelling. Even if you go through and win … in these kind of matches, you still have to come back.

“You have your sleeping cycle and rhythm disrupted completely, [there’s] not enough time really to recover for another five-setter.

“Something needs to be addressed, I guess, in terms of the schedule after what we’ve seen this year.”

Meanwhile, Murray revealed the physical toll of his epic win over Kokkanakis, with the match having lasted five hours and 45 minutes.

“I had about seven or eight blisters that I had to have drained,” he said.