To combat late night finishes the organisers of the BNP Paribas Open have changed the way matches are scheduled on the main Stadium 1 show court. The day session, which as in previous years starts at 11am, now features just three matches rather than the traditional four, and the evening session of two matches is scheduled to start an hour earlier at 6pm
On Saturday this new arrangement bore fruit in a big way, with the third of the day session matches running through to a 5.35pm finish as the evergreen Venus Williams and number three seed Petra Kvitova were on court for two hours and twenty-seven minutes before the American converted her first match point for a 4-6 7-5 6-4 victory.
This left just enough time for the day session crowd to leave before Noval Djokovic and Bjorn Fratangelo took to the court, the world No.1 getting a good workout without being seriously threatened in a 7-6(5) 6-2 win. The second of the evenings matches was scheduled for a “not before 8pm” start, giving the crowd a 20-minute break before Naomi Osaka , the women’s No.1, despatched France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4 to bring the curtain down on an interesting day’s play at just after 9.30pm.
Saturday’s other highlights included Felix Auger-Aissime’s emphatic 6-4 6-2 demolition of 9th seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and a marvellous battle between Malek Jaziri and Gilles Simon, the latter winning after three hours and eight minutes of delightful thrust and parry tennis, 6-3 6-7(6) 6-4.