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Heat

Players & spectators alike are being encouraged to keep cool at Melbourne Park on Tuesday as weather forecasters tip that the temperature could hit 43 degrees Celsius.

Though extreme, the heat today shouldn't surpass the record day during the 2009 tournament when the mercury hit 45.5 degrees - the highest-recorded temperature during play at Melbourne Park.

Tournament referee Wayne McKewen and official tournament doctor Tim Wood met with media on Monday to address the heat issue, with the forecast for the week predicting temperatures of 43, 39, 41 and 40 degrees through till Friday.

Play can be affected by temperatures in the forties, and even stopped if deemed necessary.

However, McKewen explained that it's not as simple as setting a degrees Celsius figure for when play will stop.

"We've got a heat policy at the Australian Open.  It takes into a variety of factors.  It's not an ambient temperature.  We just don't read an ambient temperature.  It's a wet bulb global temperature reading, a WBGT reading.

"With that it takes into the humidity and a couple of other factors.  We have the Bureau of Meteorology on site advising us as to what the conditions will be.  If they get to a certain threshold, we have different stages, and we will implement them as they progress through the day," he said.

Dr Wood said the fact that tennis offers plenty of short breaks for the players reduces stress on a player's body compared to other sports.

"Tennis, as a sport, is relatively low risk for major heat problems compared to, in Melbourne, AFL football, compared to continuous running events.  So you're more likely to get into trouble in these events, in a 10 km road race, than you are in a tennis match.

"They sit down every five to ten minutes for every 90 seconds at change of ends, so there is chance to lose some heat at that time.  Tennis by and large is a low risk sport, and that's why by and large, like cricket, we can play in these conditions and not be too concerned," he said.

While most players are well aware of how to handle the heat, spectators are reminded to drink plenty of fluid and take breaks in cooler areas if they are feeling overwhelmed by the heat.

The full extreme heat policy can be viewed here on the Australian Open website.

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Post-Tournament
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
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