Heat causing major meltdowns


It wasn't until 8 p.m. local time that temperatures finally dipped below 100 degrees. Needless to say, the scorching heat caused a few meltdowns on Day 2 of the Australian Open.

"I think it's inhumane," said Canada's Frank Dancevic, who collapsed during his 6-7 (12), 3-6, 4-6 loss against Benoit Paire. "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. I've played five-set matches all my life, and being out there for a set and a half and passing out with heatstroke, it's not normal.

"Having players with so many problems and complaining to the tournament that it's too hot to play, until somebody dies, they're just keep going on with it and putting matches on in this heat. I personally don't think it's fair, and I know a lot of players don't think it's fair."

The top temperature reached 108.5 degrees Tuesday.

But not to worry, according to the tournament's chief medical officer, Dr. Tim Wood.

In a statement released by the Australian Open, he said, "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."

Wood also called tennis a relatively low-risk sport compared with others. Not everyone agreed with that assessment, including Martina Navratilova, who called Wood "completely clueless" on her Twitter account.

Asked whether three or four days straight of these temps would have a cumulative effect on athletes (temperatures are predicted to be above 106 degrees until Saturday), Wood said, "From a medical perspective, not really. … If the weather stays as it is and we don't get rain delays, they obviously only play every 48 hours. So they have got plenty of time to recover between singles matches. If anything, depending where the players have been before they arrive here there is an acclimatization that is beneficial to the players.

"Certainly in the next four days, they will have plenty of chance to acclimatize. The body does put in measures that assist in coping with the heat. So if anything, the players will acclimatize with playing in the heat. They might actually get better, particularly with the 48 hours rest between matches."

Well then.

The heat didn't affect everyone, though. Sloane Stephens, a first-round winner, said her smartphone helped her prepare for the latest dog days Down Under.

"I just expected it would be hot," she said. "But, I mean, I kept looking at my phone. Mine is in Fahrenheit. I'm like, 108 Fahrenheit. Why is that happening? Then I kind of like Googled 45 centigrade, like, just to see what's happening.

"I think the heat was more in my mind than anything. When I got there, it wasn't that bad for me. Obviously, I played later, so it was OK."

In the first two days, eight men and one woman retired. Interestingly, none cited the hot spell as a reason.

Andy Murray said that, despite the convoluted heat rules, you just play if you're told to play.

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