November 30, 2008

'09 Australian Open: Women's Final at night

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian Open women's final will be played at night from next year on in hopes of attracting a larger television audience. The final has traditionally been played on a Saturday afternoon but officials are switching it to the evening after successfully moving the men's event in 2005 (breaking a 103-year tradition of daylight deciders).

"We have been thinking about a night final for the women ever since the men's night final proved such an outstanding success," tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement. "Our research has shown that the Australian tennis public would prefer the women's singles final to be played at night." Tilley said the move was expected to attract a bigger television, radio and internet audience and had been approved by the Women's Tennis Association and some of the top players.

"The atmosphere at Melbourne Park at night is great and the cooler conditions allow the players to really produce their best," Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova said. "I think this move will further showcase a great sporting event and is good for both players and fans." The 2009 Australian Open is scheduled from Jan. 19-Feb. 1.

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