Red dust, rain hit weather-plagued Aus­tralian Open

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By JOHN PYE

Red dust and rain com­bined to give some of the blue courts at the Aus­tralian Open a more Roland Gar­ros hue, adding yet another el­e­ment to the freak­ish con­di­tions that have plagued the first four days of the tour­na­ment. Smoke from dev­as­tat­ing bush fires on Aus­tralia’s east coast caused air qual­ity in Mel­bourne last week to be ranked among the worst in the world, and im­pacted on qual­i­fy­ing.

Red dust and rain com­bined to give some of the blue courts at the Aus­tralian Open a more Roland Gar­ros hue, adding yet another el­e­ment to the freak­ish con­di­tions that have plagued the first four days of the tour­na­ment.

Smoke from dev­as­tat­ing bush fires on Aus­tralia’s east coast caused air qual­ity in Mel­bourne last week to be ranked among the worst in the world, and im­pacted on qual­i­fy­ing.

So far this week, rain on three of the first four days of the tour­na­ment has caused more dif­fi­cul­ties for play­ers and or­ga­niz­ers.

Play was de­layed on out­side courts Wed­nes­day by more show­ers and what a weather ex­pert called “dirty rain” that left red dust cov­er­ing some out­side courts at Mel­bourne Park, forced the closer of some public pools and turned the water in the Yarra River which winds be­tween the ten­nis com­plex and the city deep brown.

Mel­bourne Park staff used high-pres­sure hoses to clean court sur­faces. Light rain be­came heavy, forc­ing the sus­pen­sion of play on out­side courts un­til the sun came out in the mid-af­ter­noon.

On the plus side, there are three sta­di­ums with re­tractable roofs, so the show courts will go on.

Fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev needed a med­i­cal time­out for a nose bleed be­fore beat­ing Span­ish qual­i­fier Pe­dro Martinez 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 and ad­vanc­ing to the third round.

The U.S. Open fi­nal­ist called for a med­i­cal time­out while lead­ing 5-0 in the sec­ond set and needed treat­ment to stop the bleed­ing.

His match on Mar­garet Court Arena fol­lowed sixth-seeded Belinda Ben­cic’s 7-5 7-5 win over 2017 French Open cham­pion Je­lena Ostapenko.

“I’m su­per happy to get the match out of the way. I didn’t know the courts were, like, wet and dirty and all that,” Ben­cic said. “But for sure it was dif­fi­cult to­day. It was some­times sunny and then sud­denly was al­most rain­ing. Then windy. Yeah, you just kind of have to ac­cept it and go with it and try your best.”

On Rod Laver Arena, the cen­ter court at Mel­bourne Park, sec­ond-seeded Karolina Pliskova ad­vanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Laura Siege­mund fol­low­ing two-time ma­jor win­ner Gar­bine Mugu­ruza’s 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Ajla Toml­janovic.

“I’m happy to get through — this was an ugly match for me,” Pliskova said.

Last year at Mel­bourne Park, Pliskova lost to even­tual cham­pion Naomi Osaka in the semi­fi­nals af­ter sav­ing four match points to beat Ser­ena Wil­liams in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Mugu­ruzu had to wait for the sta­dium roof to be closed in the third set of her win, and said the need to stay pa­tient was cru­cial in the tough win. On Mel­bourne Arena, 19th-seeded Donna Ve­kic beat Al­ize Cor­net 6-4, 6-2.

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy se­nior me­te­o­rol­o­gist Richard Car­lyon told the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Corp. the brown rain was the re­sult of the rain front mov­ing through a dust storm north­west of Mel­bourne, and not from bush­fire smoke.

ROUGH DAY Russia’s Daniil Medvedev holds a towel on his nose­bleed dur­ing his sec­ond round sin­gles match against Spain’s Pe­dro Martinez at the Aus­tralian Open in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, on Wed­nes­day.

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