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Too hot: Australian Open revises extreme heat policy

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says they changed heat policy in 2015 edition following criticism for not stopping matches last year despite extreme heat

After facing severe criticism last year for not stopping matches despite Melbourne facing excessive heat, the 2015 Australian Open, which begins on January 19, will have a new extreme heat policy in place, tournament director Craig Tiley revealed yesterday.

Eugenie Bouchard cools off during her match against Lauren Davis during the 2014 Australian Open in Melbourne. Pic/Getty Images
Eugenie Bouchard cools off during her match against Lauren Davis during the 2014 Australian Open in Melbourne. Pic/Getty Images 

According to the year's first Grand Slam's new extreme heat policy, matches will stop if the temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

Only the matches being played on the three venues with retractable roofs — Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and Margaret Court Arena — will continue, while matches on all other courts will resume only after the temperature falls 40 degrees.

"Last year we had over four days of over 40 degrees of heat. We don't expect a repeat of that, but we have a new extreme heat policy this year that was prepared in consultation with the players.

When the air temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius, the referee will call into effect the new heat policy and consequently all play will stop after the set is completed.

"We will then close the retractable roofs at the three stadiums where it is possible and play will continue at these venues. If the temperature does not go down, we will shift the matches being held on the other courts to one of these three," Tiley told mid-day during a teleconference from Australia yesterday.

Hallucinations
Last year, many players struggled to cope with the Melbourne heat. Canada's Frank Dancevic hallucinated that he saw cartoon character Snoopy on court before fainting during his first round clash.

Craig Tiley
Craig Tiley 

China's Peng Shuai vomited during her Round One encounter with Kurumi Nara. The heat even caused Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's soles and Caroline Wozniacki's plastic water bottle to melt.

While Tiley believes that the heat will not be an issue this year, one potential area of concern for the organisers could be player fatigue, considering that many of the top players participated in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) during the season break, which players ideally spend on rest and recuperation.

"There is the potential that players may be tired, but the players I have met so far, who played in the IPTL, seem well rested and in good shape. These are professional athletes. But we need to schedule our tournaments better," said Tiley.

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