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SBD Global/January 15, 2014/Events and Attractions

Heat Wave Affecting Australian Open Leads Competitors To Call Organizers 'Inhumane'

A ball boy is tended to after fainting at the Australian Open Tuesday.
Australian Open organizers have been labeled "inhumane" for their decision to let "play go ahead despite incredibly hot conditions on the second day of action," according to Simon Rice of the London INDEPENDENT. Temperatures "went above 42 degrees Celsius [108 Fahrenheit] in Melbourne" on Tuesday, leading to Canadian player Frank Dancevic and a ball boy "collapsing on court." Peng Shuai of China vomited and suffered cramps in her defeat to Kurumi Nara. Andy Murray, who was "fortunate enough to play on the Hisense Arena which provides shade," said, "It doesn't look good for the sport when people are collapsing. Most of the players are conditioned well enough to last in that weather but doing it for three or four hours is tough to recover from." Dancevic, who was playing on "one of the exposed courts, required medical attention after passing out for a minute." Dancevic: "I think it's inhumane, I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out" (INDEPENDENT, 1/14). In London, Neil Harman reported "true to the forecasters' words, the thermometer on the second day of the Australian Open touched 42 degrees Celsius on court, which is monstrously hot to try to run around in." This is "cruelty to athletes and though there were those from afar, saying that players should be better conditioned, only a handful of millionaires on the tour can afford to find such extremities to train in." Not everyone who plays professional tennis "has a second home in Dubai, or on Miami Beach." The tournament's organizers insisted they had been "right to continue with the day's schedule." Referee Wayne McKewen said, "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." Tournament doctor Tim Wood said, "There were a few players who experienced heat-related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match" (LONDON TIMES, 1/14).

FEDERER KEEPS COOL: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported Federer, "watched by the newest member of his coaching team, Stefan Edberg, kept his usual cool in the hot conditions and eased into the second round with a 6-4 6-4 6-2 drubbing of local wildcard James Duckworth." Federer: "It can become just a very mental thing and you just can't accept that it's hot. Just deal with it, because it's the same for both. That's basically it" (REUTERS, 1/14).

HEAT AFFECTS TURNOUT: In Sydney, Peter Hanlon reported a total of 35,571 "braved the oppressive conditions, down nearly 15,000 on the day two turnout of 2013." Many sought shelter "wherever they could find it, leaving the outside courts resembling the event's latter stages when the meaningful action takes place on the major arenas." The tournament's Twitter feed was a "catalogue of carnage, with reports of fainting, on-court vomiting and myriad measures taken in futile attempts to beat the heat." Few succeeded, but not all "were perturbed -- one fan described it as a great day for spectators, with easy access to all courts" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/15).

'LIKE AN OVEN': The BBC reported U.S. player John Isner, "who retired from his first-round match with a right ankle injury," said, "It was like an oven -- when I open the oven and the potatoes are done. That's what it's like." Players draped bags of ice "around their necks and retreated into the shade at the back of the courts between points, while some spectators queued in front of large electric fans that blasted water at their faces" (BBC, 1/14).

HEAT IS ON: ESPN's Melissa Isaacson opined complaining "about the heat at the Australian Open is like moaning about the rain at Wimbledon." It "happens." One journalist from Western Australia said, "In Perth, we don't use the word 'hot' until there's a '4' in front of it." Forecasts call for 106, 109 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit the next three days. The players "seem to be taking the heat in stride." Novak Djokovic said, "It's the same for myself and my opponent. So you have to adjust to it." Victoria Azarenka said, "I actually enjoy [it]. I mean, not all the time probably, but it's nice to get some sun" (ESPN, 1/14). In Sydney, Richard Hinds opined at this Australian Open, "well done" is "not a compliment, it is an assessment of a player's state after leaving a scolding court." In an attempt to "provide a scientific explanation of the bleeding obvious -- it was a very hot day -- figures on 'wet bulb readings' and 'mean radiant temperatures' replaced service speeds and unforced errors as the most frequently distributed statistics." Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said that his match against Filippo Volandri "was the hottest he had played and that he could not move properly because his sneakers were sticking to the surface." Caroline Wozniacki said that "she put a water bottle on the court and it started to melt." Federer, "the James Bond of tennis, very nearly perspired" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/14).

TV TALK: ESPN's Chris McKendry said, "It is Australia, land known for extremes and it proves itself once more. A heat wave, triple-digit temperatures will not discriminate. It's here for four days and it will touch and test each and every player in the draw, every spectator in the stands and every kid just trying to do his job. So ice down and bear down because the temperatures are only going to climb. ... Heat is on and play is under way." Federer said of Edberg, his new coach, "His days, those are the times I remember from TV. That's kind of what's very exciting, just hanging out with him. That was the idea as well and let's say if it didn't work out, he would say, 'No, I'm not ready for this,' at least I would have had a few nice dinners with him and was able to spend some time with a childhood hero." ESPN's Chris Fowler said of Federer changing to a bigger racket, "He said 'more pop' with the racket, which is a Wilson frame, 98 square-inches, really just getting in line with what most of the top players use. He had kept that same frame for his whole career, which is smaller." ESPN's Tom Rinaldi said of the conditions, "The best way to describe these conditions would be to say, go inside your bathroom at home and turn on your hair dryer full blast right into your face. It isnt' just the heat, however dry, the wind is very considerable here and the weight of it (is) almost like an anvil" ("Australian Open," ESPN2, 1/14).
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