The authorities implemented the ‘’extreme heat policy”, suspending matches on uncovered courts today due to temperature exceeding 40°C. Play was disrupted for more than four hours on the fourth day of the Australia Open. The matches kept on going on Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena as their roofs were brought across.
Tennis female champion, Maria Sharapova spent 3 hours and 28 minutes in the brutal heat on Rod Laver Arena as she played against Italy’s Karin Knapp in three sets. She later said, “We have never received any emails or warnings about the weather or what to do.” The Russian added, “Actually, I did receive one, I think, while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago, and I was like, ‘that’s a little too late’.”
According to BBC, the temperature was 42.2°C on Tuesday, 41.5°C on Wednesday and hit its peak at 43.3°C today.
Several players responded to the decision of suspending matches due to heat through Twitter and other mediums. Belgian player Kirsten Flipkens tweeted: “FINALLY!!!! Play suspended because of the heat… Heat policy should have been in two days ago already… #burning #crazy #nothealthy.”
“Impossible to play in this heat… it’s only about surviving. Forget about beauty of the tennis!” said Russian player, Elena Vesnina.
Croatian Ivan Dodig said that he feared he could maybe even die and it was inhuman to allow players to compete in such testing conditions.
American Varvara Lepchenko even required a medical timeout: she had ice rubbed onto her legs after losing five consecutive games on Court Eight.”I think they definitely should not have started the matches in the first place,” said Lepchenko. “Obviously it’s very dangerous if someone has some sort of conditions with their heart. Being in this temperature is almost like going into a sauna – it’s not good”, added the American.
Tournament referee Wayne McKewen, who uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature reading, was highly criticised for not suspending matches on the two previous days.