On Saturday night, Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt had a late night match at Melbourne Park against Marcos Bagdatis. Due to late running matches and a decision that may live to be regretted by the organisers, the match started at around 11.30pm local time on Saturday night. That decision to start the match that late is debatable. Should they have cancelled the match until the next day? How would you feel if you were waiting around to play but it got too late and you had to come back the day afternoon or even first up the next morning?
The match started and because Lleyton didn’t win in straight sets or even 4 sets, a late night became even later. It was that late that when the match finished just after 4.30am, people who were going out to a nightclub for the night could have been home and asleep by the time the match finished. Imagine going to the tennis as a spectator for the night session and finding that the last match finished at 4.30am! Apart from the tiredness that you may experience, how would you get home if you caught public transport? Is it up to the organisers to make a phone call to the public transport operators to say “um, you might want to put some extra trains/trams/buses on, Lleyton’s match hasn’t finished yet.” or not?
Indeed, there is no information on the Connex website (the operators of Melbourne’s trains) about services to/from the tennis. Yarra Trams (the operator of Melbourne’s trams) has a shuttle service between the city and the venue all day and up to 1 hour after the last match regardless of what time the match finishes. So it seems that at least, Yarra Trams are on the ball and will just keep running for as long as needed.
Comments in the mainstream media today angered me. Supporters of Lleyton (and even the man himself) have spoken about the lateness of the match and also about how he will be “sleep deprived” as a result of the match. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long night for him and by the time that he warmed down, did his press conference, treated any niggles, got back to the hotel and wound down, it was even longer. It was said that he finally got to bed about 8am Sunday morning. Having said that, it would be worse if his next match was on Sunday. However, his next match was at 7.30pm on Monday night. So he would have about 36 hours between going to sleep and the next match. There would be plenty of time to recover and prepare for the next match.
Don’t forget, we aren’t talking about a once a year hit and giggle social player who decided to go out and play Aqua Golf after a night on the cans. We are talking about a professional athlete who earns millions of dollars a year to play tennis. He would have a team of people behind him to support him and assist with his recovery and preparation.
I dare say that Lleyton wouldn’t know what real sleep deprivation was. Try being a shiftworker with rotating shifts, a day off here and there and working in all weathers and situations. . Imagine that the minimum time off duty between shifts might be 8 – 11 hours. Also, try to imagine what it is like to be expected to be 100% aware of your surroundings and on the top of your game (no pun intended) in relation to your job regardless of your surroundings, the environment, how tired you are, etc. When you can do all that and do it on the average wage along with things like families and social lives as well thrown in, Lleyton, come back and talk to me then. But until then………. C’MON! GET WITH THE PROGRAM!