Victoria Azarenka lashes out at tennis chiefs and demands change

Victoria Azarenka talks to the media

Victoria Azarenka has been involved in a few high-profile controversies this year and now she has planted herself at the heart of another big talking point.

Belarusian star Azarenka has been constantly quizzed about her stance on the war in Ukraine over the course of this year and has suggested she is getting ‘fed up’ talking about the subject after big tennis matches.

Now she has joined the debate over the timing of matches, which has been a constant complaint throughout this season.

Andy Murray played some ridiculously late matches at the Australian Open to start the year, with world No 3 Elana Rybakina admitting she was ‘exhausted’ after finishing her match against Daria Kasatkina in Canada last week at 3am in the morning.

Azarenka has suggested tennis chiefs need to change their scheduling to ensure fans and players are not alienated by the unpredictable orders of play.

“I absolutely lost it yesterday because we work so hard in the Players Council and I just felt so frustrated, like I’m not making a difference and I put a lot of time, a lot of effort,” said Azarenka.

“I try to be reasonable, I try to compromise, I try to create ideas and we are moving at the slowest pace to get things done.

“This is the only sport in the world where you don’t know when you will play. I look at it as a player, and it’s ridiculous.

“I look at it as a fan, and I don’t know which matches I’m going to go watch because I have no clue unless you’re very fanatical.

“We need to appeal to a bigger crowd to watch our sport. The night matches have to start earlier in the 6PM and 8:30PM slots.”

Azarenka also suggested tennis chiefs need to consider ways to shorten matches, with long battles stretching long into the evening not good for fans at stadiums or TV viewers.

“If tennis can help itself to have slots of time where we can market, it would be much easier for the tournament,” she added.

“I don’t know how it will be received, but if matches could be a little bit shorter. I think the quality of the competition won’t be affected that extremely. There’s tradition, but I don’t think it would change the game to the point where it’s unrecognizable.

“Maybe a third set is up to 12 points. There has to be some innovation possible.”

This issue continues to be a big talking point in tennis, with tournament organisers keen to maximize revenues with day and night session tickets.

Night session tickets are currently on sale for Friday’s matches in Cincinnati at $199, with verified resale tickets available for an eye-watering $428,

One solution to this problem of late-night matches would be removing the need to take out one set of ticket holders and replace them with the night session crowds, but that option would not be attractive for tournament officials.

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