MELBOURNE: Australian Open officials have denied any bias towards Roger Federer after he was allowed to play most of his matches in the same evening slot on the centre court, reports said Wednesday.
Tournament director Craig Tiley dismissed notions of favouritism after British media reported disquiet in the camp of Andy Murray, who has played all his matches in the afternoon heat and switching courts each time.
Federer has played four of his five matches in the primetime TV evening slot at Rod Laver Arena, the tournament's centre court. The semi-finals were also played in the evening as will the final.
He has also been seen practising at Rod Laver Arena before his matches, with Melbourne's Herald Sun tabloid saying officials had rolled out the “Fed Carpet” for the four-time champion.
But Tiley denied the popular Swiss was being given an easy ride.
“The players know what goes in with scheduling, it isn't a simple matter,” he said, according The Age. “I think we do a pretty good job of being fair. TV only have a contributing voice.”
Murray, targeting his second straight major title, has alternated between Rod Laver and secondary Hisense Arena, and has commented that changing courts can disrupt a player's rhythm.
But Tiley said Murray had been poorly treated “only if you look through a narrow looking glass.
“But you have to look at all the variables, such as broadcast requests, the opponents they have had and Federer playing (Australian) Bernard Tomic last Saturday,” he said.
Murray also said he had “no complaints” about the schedule, and agreed with the decision to schedule Federer's quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday evening.
“If I was the tournament director or the referee or whoever decides the schedule, I also would have put Federer against Tsonga on as the night match tonight because it's the best match of the day,” he said, after beating Jeremy Chardy to reach the semis.
Federer, who holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, has been repeatedly rated as Australians' most popular athlete, according to one survey. He is on target to meet Murray in the semi-finals.