|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
January 20, 2008
DARREN PEARCE: We have our tournament director, Craig Tiley, and referee, Wayne McKewen. Craig Tiley will make a short statement, then both gentlemen will be available for questions.
CRAIG TILEY: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone.
There have been some questions on scheduling, so we thought it would be appropriate to not only address the questions but make a statement.
Before I go to the statement, it was a great night last night. I think all of our association agree those epic matches that were played yesterday, I don't think I've ever been in an environment where we finished a day session of just three matches that got done at 9:30 at night and then have to turn around the stadium and put another two matches.
That final match with Baghdatis and Hewitt, the epic nature of that match was unbelievable. I know it was received around the world with great applause. We received texts and notes from people around the world just loving the tennis.
It was a late night for everyone, but it was certainly worth it, seeing such unbelievable tennis. I think you can all attest to that as well as those that were part of it. I cannot recall the time when early in the draw Roger Federer played 10-8 in the fifth set. Maybe some of you can help us with that.
Obviously, there have been some questions related to the lateness of the scheduling, starting a match that late. I think it's important for everyone to note and to know there are many variables that go into the scheduling decisions, variables from the men's players, the ATP, the women's side, the WTA, the Grand Slam, the tournament. There's security concerns, which we always take into consideration. There's the concerns of the public. There's our ticketholders. There's the broadcasters, the host broadcasters, the international broadcasters.
All these factors are taken into consideration. Often these variables occur in real-time. We have to make decisions in real-time and on the run at the same time as consulting with the players. We never make a decision in isolation or independently. Our decisions are always made as a matrix of all those variables being taken into consideration.
Primarily - and Wayne will be able to talk to that, because that's his responsibility - is in consultation with the players. We did that last night across the board.
We did end up with an early morning finish. I know that because when I drove home, it was just to take a shower and come back, ready for some great tennis again today.
I want to conclude that statement and open it up for any questions.
Q. Wayne, can you take us through the thinking of starting the match at 11:49, I think it was, and was it purely because of the backlog of matches?
WAYNE McKEWEN: No, it wasn't due to the backlog at all. The match was actually called I think at 11:34 with no backlog of matches. That's the great thing with this venue here. We have two roofs. We're able to play matches in all conditions, whether it's heat or rain or great weather. We're not behind on schedule. That was one of the key issues.
What held us up yesterday was the length of the matches. Yesterday we saw, as Craig said, two fantastic five-set battles out there. We had the No. 1 player, Federer, taken to 10-8 in the fifth. Then we had a 4:45 match with Hewitt and Baghdatis.
When we look at the schedule, I would never have picked Federer to go 4 hours 25. That's what started the ball rolling. That's where we started to go down, where we had the first problems. But that is tennis. You cannot pick the length of a match.
Q. So if there wasn't a backlog of matches, no rush on the schedule, why start so late, beyond your curfew?
WAYNE McKEWEN: Well, the curfew doesn't actually apply to Rod Laver Arena, the night session. The curfew is for outside courts.
Rod Laver, we have a night session. It starts at 7:30 where we have two matches that we try and put on for the public.
CRAIG TILEY: Keep in mind, as well, the curfew is a recommended time, which was new this year. It's also ultimately the referee's discretion. If you have inclement weather, the referee is going to make a decision on either side of that 11:00 hour.
Q. Hewitt said last night that he and Baghdatis expected to go on after Federer. How did that situation arise?
CRAIG TILEY: Let me just explain. That's a question I can explain. The process that took place is when we realized, around 9:00, we were deep into the fifth set with Federer, we knew it looks like it could go another hour, it could go another two hours, and now we have some decisions to make.
We did consult with both Sania Mirza and Venus Williams on the choice that they would potentially have is move Hewitt's match up, and if they were looking at the possibility and would be prepared to play on Vodafone or come back today, to give them an option, because we were already starting their match two hours later at least, and it could have been longer if it went more than 10-8 in the fifth.
I personally approached them, together with the tour manager, and gave them that option. They decided that they wanted to play, and they were willing to wait and play and went back and informed Wayne, the referee, that they were willing to play.
At that time Hewitt and Baghdatis were under the impression that there's a possibility their match would move up to the earlier time and that the women's match would move to later on today. I think there was an expectation from them they were to move up, and they ended up going on at 11:30.
There was a miscommunication that went to both Lleyton and to Marcos. Because this miscommunication went late, and it was close to the time where they made the assumption they would be going on - because no final decision was made - they wanted to get a quick hit in, which they did. Then they felt they would be able to go and play. At that time, it was told to them, no, they would be going on second, as the match was scheduled.
Keep in mind that these matches scheduled on RLA and Vodafone are protected matches because of the fact that we can close the roof. It's a prescheduled match that's protected, unlike when we go outside when inclement weather changes that.
Q. When you talk about miscommunication, were the men told that they would probably play before the women had agreed or not agreed to delay their match?
CRAIG TILEY: Yes.
Q. How did that happen?
CRAIG TILEY: That just happened because, again, all these variables that are taking place in this room in real-time is the tour manager, the ATP and WTA, they were informed that there was a possibility. It was not confirmed, because ultimately I am the final decision-maker here, and I was still consulting with the women. I think everyone jumped the gun.
They made some quick assumptions. I know assumptions were made, because even coming back from my consultation on the women's side, I heard people talking in the corridor that Hewitt was playing second, Hewitt and Baghdatis were playing next and the final decision wasn't made.
Q. If the Mirza and Williams match went three sets, would the Hewitt match have been played?
WAYNE McKEWEN: I spoke to both players, both Marcos and Lleyton. We had come to an agreement. I spoke to them during the first set of the women's match when it first went on. We looked at the possibilities. We looked at different times of when we may call it off.
I wanted to have a feel for what they wanted. We then came -- we said we'd talk again after the first set, see how quick that went and which way the second set was going.
During that second set, we all came to an agreement, both Lleyton, Marcos and myself, that if the match did split sets, it would be called off and it would be rescheduled for today.
Q. Could you have ordered Williams and Mirza to go to Vodafone?
WAYNE McKEWEN: I've got the power to do that, yes.
Q. Why didn't they go there? What was their reasoning?
WAYNE McKEWEN: Well, we've got a ticketed night session here where we like to provide to our patrons two matches. We've got a women's match first up, which was on the schedule. We stuck to what the schedule said.
Q. Then why did you consult with them?
WAYNE McKEWEN: We wanted to give them the option of possibly moving.
CRAIG TILEY: Keep in mind, the match is starting late.
WAYNE McKEWEN: Yes. Because when you look at the brackets for the matches, Lleyton's opponent, Lleyton and Marcos' opponent, were already through to the next round. Men playing best-of-five sets, for Marcos or Lleyton to then come out today, play a best-of-five, then to come back again the day after to play another best-of-five, that's why, when we look at the men's, we try to keep the brackets together.
That's why, when we played the Monaco/Berdych match, his opponent was through, it was in a protected match on a covered court, we took two matches off which were in the same bracket, David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, who both won this morning. They were both put on first to play tomorrow not before 3:00.
Q. Do you think it's ridiculous that a match finishes at quarter to 5:00 in the morning?
CRAIG TILEY: Let me answer that question by saying we need to keep a few things in mind here. One of them is, have a look at the spirit in which these matches were played in, the great spirit they were played in and the epic nature of these matches and the opinions and attitudes of these players going into these matches and how they competed.
So there's no question that we had an unbelievable night of tennis that was beamed around the world. I think we must be careful not to forget that, because at the end of the day, the tennis fan, which we all are, had an unbelievable experience last night.
WAYNE McKEWEN: Even with a 7:30 start, we still could have a quarter to 5:00 finish.
Q. If we have quarter to 5:00 every morning, it wouldn't worry you? That's all right because it's an epic match?
WAYNE McKEWEN: It's an epic match. That's something that happens once every few years.
Q. Do you believe because of the lateness of the start and the end, Hewitt's campaign is now compromised or indeed Baghdatis' would have been, had he won, in terms of trying to back up and beat someone who's had an extra night's sleep?
WAYNE McKEWEN: Well, that's why I wanted to consult both the players. I wanted to get a feel for what they wanted.
As a referee, I have the tournament on one side; I have the players on the other. I like to hear both sides of the story and then make my decision. That's why I wanted to speak to the players, see what they wanted to do.
We then came to the agreement that if they split sets, it was going to be too late for them, and they'd come back today.
Q. Back on this miscommunication. You're the referee; you run the tournament. How does it happen that the players are led to believe that they're going to go on as the first match of the night session? How does that actually happen?
WAYNE McKEWEN: That's where I utilize both the ATP and WTA Tour managers. We have them involved in conversations. I get them to go and speak to the players, whether it's for a not-before time for a certain match. I use them all throughout the tournament for talking to the players.
Q. So the ATP dropped the ball, is what you're saying?
WAYNE McKEWEN: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying it was a miscommunication.
CRAIG TILEY: I think ultimately Wayne and myself sitting in front of you take responsibility for that miscommunication and need to put processes in place to assure that does not happen.
But it's important to remember we are consulting with the players, we are communicating with the players, in order to provide them with the best possible environment in which to compete.
Starting that late is not ideal. But note that this is not unusual. We have had it happen here before at the Australian Open and other Grand Slam events and events where matches, because you cannot predict the length of the match, go longer. We would never have predicted the length of the day session.
Q. This has never happened before. A match has never started or finished this late.
CRAIG TILEY: Correct. There have been times when matches have been extremely late. But again, we cannot predict the length -- the afternoon session, three matches, the women's match, two out of three, González's four sets, then the five sets, all were long matches.
Of the potential of all the sets we could have played in the afternoon session, we played every single set except one.
Q. Why did you schedule two men's and a women's match when you're trying to play two singles matches at night?
WAYNE McKEWEN: That's normal policy, normal policy during the day. It's not just a men's or women's tournament here. We like to have an even spread of both men's and women's matches on RLA and Vodafone Arena.
Q. In the past when they've had two men and a women's during the day, they then have the men at 7:30 or something like that?
WAYNE McKEWEN: No, that's not true.
CRAIG TILEY: No.
Q. When you were consulting the men, they were keen, happy to go on at quarter to 12?
WAYNE McKEWEN: They were concerned about the lateness of the match. That's why I wanted to keep them informed.
Q. Was your sense from the women that their match was being devalued by postponing it at that time? Were the women happy with that?
CRAIG TILEY: I can talk to that because I spoke directly to the women. The reason we spoke to them primarily was the fact that we were still in the fifth set of Roger Federer's match. It was getting late. There was a potential that it could be starting three hours after their scheduled time. We give them the option to reschedule, as we do with any players in the situation, to reschedule or come back the next day, if they choose to do it. They chose they wanted to stay and compete, regardless of the time they started.
WAYNE McKEWEN: Playing back-to-back three-set matches is a lot easier than back-to-back five-set matches.
CRAIG TILEY: Also keep in mind, Mirza and Williams are in doubles, mixed doubles. They did bring that to our attention. They wanted to get the match done, regardless of the start time, because of the fact they had to turn around and play today in doubles and mixed doubles.
Their initial reaction was very fair and we had an open conversation and gave them plenty of opportunity to give some feedback. Collectively, the tournament, Wayne, the two of us together made a decision to remain with the schedule because the players, that was their desire.
Q. Notwithstanding the kind of epic nature of the matches, what are your views on principle, Grand Slam tennis, professional sport at the highest level, being played at 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning? Do you think professional players should not be asked to go out there at such unearthly hours and play high-level tennis or any sport?
WAYNE McKEWEN: You have international players here. The time difference. We get players coming in asking to be put on late.
Q. It doesn't matter. The time they're going on is midnight. To me it's absolutely daft having players starting a match in a Grand Slam tournament at midnight.
CRAIG TILEY: I don't think we went on at midnight.
Q. It wasn't far short.
CRAIG TILEY: It's not ideal to be going that late. However, you can never predict you're going to have those length of matches. There are some nights where it goes the other way around. If you recall AO 2007, the middle Sunday, exact same time last year, we had one men's match, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, over very quickly. It's very difficult to predict the nature of the matches. The nature of the tennis last night was fantastic tennis.
Q. All the good texts you got and emails from around the world, the ticket-paying public out in front last night, what was the general reaction from them in?
CRAIG TILEY: I can define it one phone call this morning from someone driving to Bendigo at 6:00 this morning after they said they had the best day of their life. They had a day session ticket and a night session ticket. Or the calls we received from the ESPN crew, 14 straight hours, never enjoyed it as much. All the emails I have in my inbox this morning saying what a great night it was.
The patrons outside, those that were here, saw how packed Garden Square was, everyone watching the conclusion of the Federer match. We were able to turn the stadium around very quickly, in 20 minutes, which in itself I think was a record, to get the day session ticketholders out, the night session ticketholders in. If you noted, night session ticketholders were still entering the stadium when we started the match.
Q. Were there concerns about what the fan reaction would be if you made an announcement that Hewitt and Baghdatis were not going to play?
CRAIG TILEY: There were not concerns on that. But that is also one of the variables to take into consideration. In this matrix of decision making in the scheduling process, that is one of the many things taken into consideration. We consult with a variety of different people on it, whether it be the tours, the broadcasters, our own team, we consult with to get the right answer.
Q. Have you spoken to the Hewitt camp today about what happened last night, the schedule ahead?
CRAIG TILEY: Spoken to the Hewitt camp today. We focused on the next step, which is tomorrow. We did discuss scheduling because we do get some feedback from the players on scheduling. I believe we have just released the schedule.
WAYNE McKEWEN: The schedule is released tomorrow.
Q. With the benefit of hindsight, did you make the right decision?
CRAIG TILEY: Absolutely the right decision.
WAYNE McKEWEN: The right decision.
End of FastScripts