- At the Australian Open the match between Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza starts at 00.30 o'clock local time.
- It's the tennis match with the latest start of Grand Slam history.
- Muguruza wins 6: 4, 6: 7 and 7: 5, Konta complains.
At night, when people go, the hour of the birds comes. Swarms of seagulls then circle over the grounds of the Australian Open on the Yarra River: white dancing dots in the sky, illuminated by headlights, like an enigmatic light installation. Then they settle on the tennis courts, perhaps attracted by the sea color of the surface, and when they fly back up, their legacy remains: white patches on the blue court.
Bird droppings, then. That was the official reason for the late start of the second round match between Briton Johanna Konta and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza (4: 6, 7: 6, 5: 7), which started Friday morning at 12:30 am local time in Melbourne. It went down in the annals as the tennis match with the latest beginning of Grand Slam history.
The spare seats were not available
According to the tournament schedule, the women's duel should take place as the second party of the evening session in the Maragret Court Arena. Because Alexander Zverev's previous game against Jeremy Chardy had been delayed due to a rain break, and then lasted five sets and more than four hours before Zverev won, the organizers considered asking Konta and Muguruza for the empty court number three which can also be lit. But there, a cleaning party with a mop would have had to deal with first. The larger Rod Laver Arena was occupied by Novak Djokovic. So Konta and Muguruza had to wait.
Absurd, as Konta criticized, especially as barely a spectator in the 7500-seat round had held out: "I do not think that's healthy – actually it's actually quite dangerous," she said. As an excuse for her defeat, she did not want to understand that, after all, her opponent was in the same situation, "and under these circumstances, both have shown a great match." But she thought it was time to question the logic of the board after the match ball at 3:12.
A match 2008 had an even later end
She could be sure of the compassion of her colleagues. Although Roger Federer, the chief diplomat of the scene, recalled that the (few) viewers in the hall and the (many) in front of the TV screens, especially in distant Europe, were well satisfied: "Is that ideal? No!" Says he: "But what can you do if a match lasts five sentences before?"
Federer recalled that tennis players need to be flexible: "We do not run a team sport with fixed kick-off times." Statisticians had even found in the annals a match that had an even later end – but at an earlier start: 2008 Lleyton Hewitt from Australia and Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus had also played in Melbourne Park until 4.34 in the morning.
Incidentally, Johanna Konta once again demonstrated flexibility. Supposedly she went to breakfast afterwards. And the seagulls rocked as if nothing had happened on the Yarra River.