Tour­na­ment in­tro­duces ex­treme heat pol­icy

Men com­pet­ing in sin­gles will get 10minute breaks if tem­per­a­tures get too hot

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports -

Men com­pet­ing in sin­gles games at the Aus­tralian Open will get 10-minute breaks if the forth­com­ing Grand Slam’s no­to­ri­ous heat reaches haz­ardous lev­els.

Tour­na­ment chiefs have un­veiled an ex­tended Ex­treme Heat Pol­icy de­signed to pro­tect the well-be­ing of the world’s best tennis play­ers when they meet in the next few weeks.

Tem­per­a­tures soared to­wards 40 de­grees in the shade at the 2018 edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion in Mel­bourne, Vic­to­ria, prompt­ing con­cerns that com­peti­tors were at risk of heat stroke.

No­vak Djokovic and Gael Mon­fils were among the big-hit­ters to warn that play was tak­ing place in po­ten­tially-dan­ger­ous con­di­tions.

The mid-Aus­tralian sum­mer open’s tour­na­ment di­rec­tor, Craig Ti­ley, said the play­ers’ well-be­ing was their “ut­most pri­or­ity” and an over­hauled “heat stress scale” had been de­vel­oped by Tennis Aus­tralia med­i­cal per­son­nel and ex­perts at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

“The AO Heat Stress Scale ranges from one to five with spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions as­so­ci­ated with each step of the scale – one de­not­ing tem­per­ate play­ing con­di­tions and five the sus­pen­sion of play,” he said.

“Un­der the up­dated pol­icy, 10-minute breaks can also be in­tro­duced into men’s sin­gles matches for the first time.”

The scale ac­counts for the phys­i­o­log­i­cal vari­ances be­tween adults, wheel­chair and ju­nior ath­letes.

It also takes into ac­count air tem­per­a­ture, ra­di­ant heat (the strength of the sun), hu­mid­ity and wind speed, which can af­fect a player’s abil­ity to dis­perse heat from their body.A net­work of de­vices will mea­sure the cli­mate fac­tors at points across the Mel­bourne Park site.

Up­dated pol­icy

Un­der the up­dated pol­icy, the Tour­na­ment Ref­eree will al­low a 10-minute break be­tween the sec­ond and third sets in both women’s and ju­nior sin­gles matches and a 15-minute break in wheel­chair sin­gles matches when a four is recorded on the scale prior to or dur­ing the first two sets of the match.

In the men’s sin­gles a 10-minute break will be al­lowed af­ter the third set when a four is recorded on the scale prior to or dur­ing the first-three sets of the match.

If a five is recorded on the scale, the ref­eree can sus­pend the start of matches on out­side courts and all matches in progress con­tin­u­ing un­til the end of an even num­ber of games in that set, or com­ple­tion of the tiebreak, be­fore play will be sus­pended.

Mon­fils said he had a “small heat-stroke” for 40 min­utes of his sec­ond-round clash with Djokovic in Jan­uary, played in tem­per­a­tures ap­proach­ing 40C, warn­ing: “We took a risk.”

His op­po­nent added: “I think there is a limit, and that is a level of tol­er­ance be­tween be­ing fit and be­ing in dan­ger in terms of health. It was right at the limit.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DEAN LEWONS/EPA

Gael Mon­fils: said he had suf­fered a “small heat-stroke” for 40 min­utes dur­ing his match against Djokovic at last year’s Aus­tralian Open in Mel­bourne.

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