Australian Open 2024: Andy Murray responds to big change after 4am farce; Aussie cult hero retires as tennis world stunned by ‘scandalous’ snub; live blog with latest results, schedule, wildcards.

The Australian Open is less than 48 hours away, but there’s already plenty of drama unfolding.

Plus Australia’s top player speaks on the ball saga turning heads.

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KYRGIOS GOES AFTER ‘STUPID’ PAT CASH

No tennis legend is safe when in the view of Nick Kyrgios, and, on Friday, it was Pat Cash who caught his line of sight.

It was comments about the Australian Open crowd that put him into Kyrgios’ view, with the former Wimbledon champion saying during a recent ABC documentary that the Melbourne fans had started to get “a little out of control”.

“Cheer on your countrymen, no problems, but they’re not representing your country, they’re individual and I think we need to understand that,” Cash said.

“We should have more respect for the international players that come over here. We’ve got to also accept that if it goes too far.”

The comments could be interpreted as a little pointed given the intensity in which the Australian Open fans cheered Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis to their doubles Grand Slam crown in 2022.

Needless to say, Kyrgios was not impressed.

“Absolutely stupid comment by another old head that has no idea how marketing or how things work in today’s day and age … you need entertainment,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“This generation doesn’t have a long attention span. That’s why you see clips on Instagram rolling. They’re 15-20 seconds long.

“Someone like Pat Cash wouldn’t be able to grasp that concept.

“I’m not taking anything away from Pat Cash – incredible player of his generation, but we need to continue to make the sport grow.

“We need the crowds to feel part of the sport. We need entertainment. We need people having beers and the players loving it. We need human interaction. We’re human, not robots.”

MURRAY SCEPTICAL OF LATE NIGHT MOVES

Courtney Walsh

A year after winning an Australian Open epic that finished near dawn, dual-Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has applauded moves by the tour to address post-midnight finishes.

But the former world No.1, who edged Thanasi Kokkinakis in a five set thriller that finished at 4.15am, is sceptical the change in starting date for this year’s AO will alleviate the issue.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said in October that the move to a Sunday start would help prevent matches finishing late by allowing for a greater spread of matches.

The tournament is scheduling two day matches on Rod Laver Arena, instead of three, and two night session matches as per usual for the 2024 tournament.

But Murray said that while it may improve the situation on RLA, it will not necessarily change the situation on other courts around Melbourne Park.

“I don’t think the Sunday start will change the late finishes. I think on center court they’re having two matches in the day, two matches in the evening,” he said.

“I think that will reduce the possibility for late finishes on Rod Laver just, yeah, because it’s unlikely you’re going to have issues with the day session running into the night, then having that gap where they have to clear out the stadium and get the night session fans in.

“I think that will help late finishes on center court. My understanding is that on the other show courts, that’s not changing, so there still is the possibility for that to happen.

“Maybe there will be – potentially, I don’t know – moving (to other) courts if (the schedule is) running over. I’m not sure. I don’t think the Sunday start will change late finishes, no.”

But the 36-year-old, who will play 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the opening round, is pleased that the tours have at least acknowledged late finishes is an issue to address.

Not only do the after-midnight finishes have an impact on the ability of players to recover in time for their next matches, it also causes issues for tournament staff and fans.

“I’ve heard lots of players, and the media obviously, discussing it for a long time. It just makes sense,” he said.

“It’s a very obvious thing that needs to change. I haven’t heard anyone really disagree with that. So … it will be good for, I think, everyone.

“I primarily would think about it from a player’s perspective. It will definitely help with recovery for, like, the following day’s matches and things like that.

“I certainly think for … fans and the tournament, it just probably looks a wee bit more professional if you’re not finishing at three (or) four in the morning.”

FORMER RISING STAR ON REDEMPTION PATH AFTER BIG WIN

Courtney Walsh

After spending several years in the wilderness after testing positive to a party drug in his youth, former US Open junior champion Omar Jasika will return to the main stage of tennis.

The Melburnian was considered one of Australia’s brightest emerging talents after winning the boys’ singles and doubles championships in New York nearly a decade ago.

The left-hander won a match on his Australian Open debut in 2016 and was showing promise on the lower rungs of the ATP Tour when he tested positive to cocaine in 2017.

He was subsequently issued with a two-year ban that effectively became almost a four year suspension given the pandemic hit just as he was eligible to resume playing again.

Jasika, who is ranked 341, qualified by defeating Abdullah Shelbayh from Jordan 2-6 6-1 6-2 on Friday at Melbourne Park. He was joined by fellow Aussie Dane Sweeny later in the day.

The 26-year-old has travelled far and wide since the pandemic chasing his dream of returning to the main stages of the ATP Tour.

Last year he played from Swan Hill in regional Victoria to Granby in Canada, and from Busan in South Korea to an extended stint in Jakarta when earning just under $100,000.

By virtue of qualifying for his first Australian Open since 2017, Jasika will earn more than he did through the entirety of 2023, with $120,000 on offer for first round participants.

MILLMANIA COMES TO AN END

John Millman’s singles career has come to an end in Australian Open qualifying, leaving some perplexed as to why he didn’t receive a wildcard.

The former world No.33 bowed out in straight sets to world No.118 Alex Molcan in the second round of qualifying on Thursday, playing on Court 3 at Melbourne Park.

A former US Open quarterfinalist, Millman’s career spanned more than 15 years, with the 34-year-old’s grit a staple of his time in the game.

Millman acknowledged the hard road he’d taken throughout his career when he spoke after the loss.

“It might not seem like much to bow out in qualifying, but it means a lot,” Millman said.

“I was never the biggest guy or the biggest hitter. I needed every bit of energy and they (supporters) came in their droves always, even in qualifying.

“I had a lot of people who didn’t think I’d eventuate to much, I stuck at it.

“The ones who did think I would are probably all over there (in the player box).”

Given Millman’s contribution to Australian tennis, some were left miffed as to why he didn’t receive a wildcard at his home slam in what was his final tournament.

It wasn’t the only wildcard omission to ruffle feathers, with Australia’s top ranked woman, Arina Rodionova, also overlooked.

Rodionova lost in the opening round of qualifying and took aim at Tennis Australia in the aftermath.

“The only regret I have from today is I think I gave Tennis Australia something to celebrate … I think they’re very pleased with my result today, and that’s what makes me upset,” she said.

“I did everything I could to possibly deserve (a wildcard) … absolutely (it feels personal). It started years and years ago, and there were so many incidents that happened between myself and people in charge.

“It is very clear to me that I am not liked, and it’s not just clear to me, it’s clear to every single Australian tennis player.”

Lorenzo Musetti ends Jordan Thompson's Adelaide run

DEMON’S AUS OPEN ADMISSION

Australia’s top-ranked tennis player Alex de Minaur agrees there should be more consistency with balls throughout the season, as debate continues to unfold ahead of the Australian Open.

Several of the game’s top players have urged the ATP to shift towards more consistency with balls, with constant changes between tournaments leading some to believe it’s the cause of injury.

Nick Kyrgios recently suggested the changing of balls had contributed to a wrist complaint for world No. 1 and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.

“I completely agree there should be more consistency with balls. We have a long year, we play a lot of tournaments, travel all around the world on different surfaces,” De Minaur said this week at ASICS to launch his new Solution Speed FF3 shoes.

“It would be nice to have some consistency when it comes to balls, just for the players themselves to get used to conditions and their body maybe not suffer as much.”

This year’s Dunlop balls for the Australian Open have also caused a stir, with some observing the balls lose their speed and fluff up well before they’re due to be changed to a new set.

De Minaur said the ball could create some interesting moments throughout this year’s event.

“I think there’s a big change from the very last game of the old balls to the new balls. I think it’s a massive change,” he said.

“Ultimately those last games with the old balls you’ve got to tough it out a little bit maybe on serve and then all of a sudden you’ve got the new balls which play totally different.

“I think there’s a span there of maybe three to four games where a lot of the match can change.

“You’ve got to be ready for that and hopefully when those new balls come in you’re ready and you play a decent enough game to break your opponent.”

Originally published as ‘Absolutely stupid’: Kyrgios shuts down great as Murray makes call on change after 4am farce

Read related topics:Nick Kyrgios

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