At least on these shores, the Australian Open is already a bit geared toward the night owl, considering you have to forego sleep and all other useful things the next day to enjoy it. But this year’s edition is off the rails, making it even more worthwhile for those of us willing to go off-kilter for a few weeks.
The tournament has already seen a record number of match-deciding tiebreakers between the ladies and gentlemen. It could be coincidental, or it could be the greater parity on both tours. Even Novak Djokovic was pulled into a four-hour match in his first round and then in the second round challenged a fan to fight him on the court. Definitely through the looking glass.
But it was on Wednesday there/Thursday here that the tournament really took off. It started with world No. 1 Iga Swiatek overcoming two breaks in the third set, leaving American Danielle Collins in a state of existential boredom, so much so that she announced her retirement after the match (OK, not really, but it’s fun to say). Both Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev had to endure five-set matches. No. 19 Cam Norrie also came back from a two-set deficit.
Then the nighttime session really heated up with the bats. Elena Rybakina, last year’s runner-up, and Anna Blinkova played the longest match tiebreak in history with 42 points, containing utter madness like this: