Australian Open: Heat causes chaos in Melbourne

Serena Williams at the Australian Open

Jan 13, 2014; Melbourne, AUSTRALIA; Serena Williams (USA) during her match against Ashleigh Barty (AUS) on day one of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Mandatory Credit: Matthias Hauer/GEPA via USA TODAY Sports

Day two of the Australian Open has been disrupted by court-side temperatures of 107ºF (42ºC). Canadian Frank Dancevic branded playing conditions as “inhumane” after he collapsed during his match against Benoît Paire and remained unconcious for about a minute.

An “extreme heat” plan was put into place for the women’s matches on Tuesday, which allowed for an extra 10 minute break between the second and third sets. The decision to stop matches is at the discretion of tournament director Wayne McKewen, who released a statement about conditions:

“While conditions were hot and uncomfortable, the relatively low level of humidity ensured that conditions never deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to invoke the extreme heat policy. Stages one and two of the heat policy were implemented.”

Dr Tim Wood, the tournament’s chief medical officer, has also responded to criticism about the extreme playing conditions.

“The majority of matches today were completed without any court calls from the medical team. Of course there were a few players who experienced heat related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match. Most of the matches today didn’t go for much longer than a couple of hours and generally the playing group coped extremely well.”

Among the issues caused by the heat:

  • Caroline Wozniacki revealed that one of her plastic water bottles had melted when it was placed on the uncovered court.
  • A ball boy required treatment after collapsing on court eight during a match between Milos Raonic and Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
  • China’s Peng Shuai said the heat caused her to cramp and vomit, and had to be helped from court after losing to Kurumi Nara.
  • Victoria Azarenka described the heat as “dancing in a frying pan”

Topics: Australian Open, Tennis

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