Aryna Sabalenka with the 2024 Australian Open trophy.
Women's champion Aryna Sabalenka could take the last-day headline slot at a future Australian Open. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • tennis

Australian Open chief considers Sunday women’s final

Darren Walton February 14, 2024

Tennis Australia is pondering the introduction of a historic Sunday night women’s final, with all manner of format tweaks on the table during its annual Australian Open debrief.

While the radical move is unlikely to take place in 2025, flipping the men’s and women’s finals is seen as a win-win for fans, not least those watching on TV.

Knowing they had to rise for work on Monday morning, tens of thousands switched off and went to bed when Daniil Medvedev led Jannik Sinner two sets to love in this year’s men’s title match.

But they woke to the news Sinner had fought back to win and become the youngest men’s Open champion since Novak Djokovic in 2008.

Jannik Sinner is congratulated by Daniil Medvedev after 2024 AO final.
 Many fans missed the climax of the 2024 men’s final, clocking off with Daniil Medvedev two sets up. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Midnight finishes – and much, much later in the cases of Rafael Nadal’s five-set epics against Djokovic in 2012, Roger Federer in 2017 and Medvedev in 2022 – have become the norm.

Eager to find a solution to bleary-eyed fans missing out, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley is known to have toyed with the notion of switching the finals even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019.

Playing the women’s championship decider, which can only go a maximum of three sets, on a Sunday night would offer sports lovers a definitive 10.30pm finish on Australia’s east coast.

It would also thrust the women further into the spotlight at what would be the first grand slam to stage their title match as the climax of the tournament.   

A Saturday night men’s final would also be more appealing for fans willing to stay up to the death.

An unabashed agent for change, Tiley is exploring all options after the move to a 15-day tournament this year drew more than a million spectators to a grand slam for the first time.

Craig Tiley.
 Tournament director Craig Tiley is always looking to move the Australian Open forward. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Tennis Australia would not need approval from the ATP – men’s tennis’s governing body – or the WTA, which runs the women’s game, to make the dramatic format change.

But players would be consulted.

The ongoing dilemma for officials is maintaining a 48-hour recovery period between best-of-five-set men’s matches.

Traditionally, the women have endured a one-day turnaround between the quarter-finals and semis but that is manageable while they only play the best of three sets and are on court for significantly less time during tournaments.

Tiley would not compromise on player welfare if organisers were unable to fashion a way for the men to play every second day.

But it’s understood that now the Open runs for 15 days, with a Sunday start and more wriggle room, swapping the men’s and women’s finals is back up for consideration.