Are you a huge tennis fan that cannot wait (and wait, and wait, and wait some more) for your favorite player to at some point show up on the court to play their match? Of course, you are. Why else would you be reading this article? Lucky for you (and all of us), Victoria Azarenka wants you to have to wait around a little less.
Victoria Azarenka, a member of the WTA Players’ Council, has always been know to have strong opinions on matters. Most of the time she isn’t wrong about what she thinks, either. Maybe she expresses her opinions a bit harshly at times, but as a WTA player with a busy schedule, she doesn’t have much time to waste words.
She might also be too tired to express herself sometimes. At the National Bank Open, Azarenka didn’t have a match start until after 11 pm local time. That is far too late for any player to begin playing, especially when they are likely, in non-major tournaments, to have to play later on the same day.
Victoria Azarenka has strong views about how tournaments are scheduled
Azarenka rightfully echoed top-ranked Iga Swiatek’s thoughts that poor scheduling, specifically late-night matches, wrecked the WTA side of the National Bank Open. Because of rain earlier in the tournament and then because many matches were scheduled to begin so late on normal days, which made rain-delayed matches played extremely late or on the same day as the next round, National Bank Open winner Jessica Pegula had what basically amounted to a walkover over an exhausted Liudmila Samsonova.
Samsonova defeated Elena Rybakina in one semifinal on Sunday. The match, because of rain, had been postponed from Saturday. The issue is that Rybakina basically did play on Saturday as the WTA, in all their wisdom, had Rybakina play Daria Kasatkina in a match that started so late the match didn’t end until a bit after 3 am ET. Then a very tired Rybakina lost to Samsonova on Sunday. A few hours later, due to scheduling, Samsonova lost the final to Pegula. Samsonova had to play the National Bank Open semifinal and final on the same day just a few hours off in between.
Azarenka thinks that one way of fixing the problem with any rain delays is to have night matches start earlier. Instead of beginning at 7:30 pm, a match could start at 6 pm local time. This would allow for more time to make up matches the next day in case there is a weather delay.
According to Azarenka
"These late finishes aren’t benefitting anyone. They’re not benefitting fans, tournaments, broadcasting because there are no primetime spots, and it’s impossible to find tennis on TV or anywhere…The night matches have to start earlier: 6PM, 8:30PM slots. We have to have other courts having night matches because, I understand if there’s no match on Center Court, it’s difficult for the tournament. But we need to have a back-up that can be moved to another court. We need to expend a little production on other courts to make sure we cover more for the World Feed and for the TV.”"
And she is 100 percent correct, of course. Very few fans are going to stay up past midnight to watch a tennis match. The players that play in late matches are affected heading into the following match. This affects their livelihood as they could be too tired to win matches and therefore titles. Maybe fewer tournaments would help, or at least days off built in near the end of a tournament instead of on the front end. Either way, scheduling needs to be fixed.