Better late than never, right?
Garbine Muguruza finally won what is believed to be the latest-starting match in Australian Open history, edging Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-5 in an after-midnight marathon that began at 12:30 a.m. and concluded at 3:12 a.m. on Friday.
A few hundred spectators dotted the stands at Margaret Court Arena, which has a seating capacity of 7,500. One woman took up three seats to herself for a bit of a snooze.
“I seriously can’t believe there’s people watching us at 3:15,” two-time major champion Muguruza said in an on-court interview, then joked: “Like, who cares?”
Because of rain delays and lengthy matches earlier in Thursday’s schedule, the second-round match kept getting pushed back.
The tournament said the previous latest start on record in Melbourne was 11:59 p.m. for a women’s match between Elise Mertens and Daria Gavrilova a year ago.
The record for latest finish? That’s 4:34 a.m., for a 2008 men’s match between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis.
Muguruza, a former No. 1-ranked player who is seeded 18th, managed to convert the only two service breaks of the match, including in the last game.
Asked afterward what she planned to do, Muguruza said: “Go (eat) breakfast now.”
The biggest beneficiary of the timing of it all might very well wind up being Timea Bacsinszky, the Swiss player who will face Spain’s Muguruza on Saturday for a spot in the fourth round.
Bacsinszky’s victory on Thursday ended more than 10½ hours earlier than Muguruza’s win did.
“I will recover as much as I can, because it was a tough match,” said Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, but has never been past the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. “Tomorrow is a day off, but I have to be (focused). The tournament is not over.”