High temperatures in Melbourne have disrupted play at the 2014 Australian Open, where tennis players have been struggling in the heat in recent days.
For four days, starting Tuesday, the temperature climbed over 40 degrees, what was the longest heat wave in the Melbourne area in more than 100 years. In those four days many people suffered heat exhaustion but what happend on the courts? Cramps were common same as the complaints from the biggest stars of the game and many other players. One player hallucinated and fainted, another vomitted on the court. The big-serving Croatian Ivan Dodig even said he had wondered whether he would die on the court.
Andy Murray called the conditions inhumane, meanwhile Canadian player Frank Dancevic said: “I was dizzy from the middle of the first set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought ‘Wow, Snoopy, that's weird.' ” Andy Murray's brother, Jamie, reportedly had heatstroke on Thursday in a doubles match and required two hours of treatment afterward. Women's world Nr. 1 Serena Williams said the fear of dehydration was giving her sleepless nights in last days.
"It's hazardous to be out there. It's dangerous," Dancevic said, criticizing the tournament for not having suspended play. "Until somebody dies, they're just going to keep playing matches in this heat."
Many other players received treatment during their matches and trainers were often in action. The nine players who retired in the first round of the singles tournaments, tied a record for a Grand Slam event in the Open era.
But there was a clear disconnect between the players and the tournament as the tournament's chief medical officer Dr. Tim Wood said: “We've evolved on the high plains of Africa chasing antelope for eight hours under these conditions.” In next statement he has also added: "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."
Organizers of the Grand Slam event finally introduced an "Extreme Heat Policy" after temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius on Thursday, so some matches were suspended because of the enormous heat.
The temperatures began to fall Friday night, and by Saturday it was a pleasant 23 degree Celsius, so there is a hope the conditions will be better in the second week and players will be able to show their best tennis.