Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

At Aussie Open, heat a growing concern

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Preparing to take the court Tuesday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Sloane Stephens kept checking the weather app on her phone as she updated coach Paul Annacone on the climbing temperature.

"I'm like, 'My phone says 108.' He says, 'No, it can't be.' 'No, I'm pretty sure,'" Stephens recalled.

Temperatures have soared well past 100 since the tournament began Sunday. The high Tuesday was 108, and it was 104 for today's early matches. The highs for Thursday and Friday are forecast at 109 and 111.

Roger Federer and Li Na downplayed the heat. But Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he blacked out during a loss and called the conditions dangerous. Andy Murray questioned whether matches should have been played: "It looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing."

John Isner said the heat is like when he opens an oven. One ball girl was treated for heat stress.

Players are using ice vests and wet towels during changeovers.

Matches can be stopped and the two retractable roofs closed at the discretion of tournament director Wayne McKewen. He described Tuesday as "uncomfortable."

Extreme heat halted play during several days in 2006. The hottest Australian Open was in 2009 (average temperature 94.46).

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