MELBOURNE, Australia—Here’s how players at the Australian Open described playing tennis on a sizzling hot day when temperatures topped 43C (109F). By mid-afternoon, organizers decided the searing heat was extreme enough to suspend matches, sparking discussion about whether it was dangerous to have allowed matches since Tuesday when the heat wave started.
Maria Sharapova survived a grueling three-setter that lasted 3 1/2 hours under the blazing sun.
“There is no getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult, and have been for the last few days.”
She said organizers could do a better job communicating with players about how to handle extreme weather, and how the heat policy works.
“We have never received any emails or warnings about the weather or what to do,” she said, pausing. “Actually I did receive one, I think while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago, and I was like, that’s a little too late.” She laughed. “It was a little too late.”
Alize Cornet of France, who meets Sharapova next, sobbed after winning her second-round win.
“I was emotional because it was a tough match.”
“I really tried to hold my frustration and hold everything I was thinking about during the match, and finally at the end I just let it go.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova found Thursday’s second-round win a little easier than her opening round Tuesday, when she almost vomited.
“My first match, I almost passed out on the court and almost threw up on the court. Today, it was a little bit better. I had a little headache, my skin was burning. It just felt really hot out there.”
“It’s really tough to play your best,” she said. “You get frustrated because you can’t play your good tennis.
Varvara Lepchenko of the United States said her body broke down during her three-set loss.
First set: “My legs, my arms started to get heavier. I couldn’t focus at one point and started feeling dizzier and dizzier.”
Second set: “I couldn’t focus on my returns. I couldn’t see the ball… Towards the middle of the second set, I started feeling more and more dizzy and … everything started going so fast….I started feeling really hot on top of my head. And then just at one point, I completely lost it.”
After the match: “The first thing I did was have an ice bath, then I also had a lot of water with salt. And I just laid down in the locker room for the past hour because I just couldn’t physically get up.”
Thomaz Bellucci received medical attention before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The trainer told him his problems were the same heat-related issues other players were experiencing—cramps and dehydration due to the temperature.
“I don’t know what the temperature was, but it was unbelievably hot.”
“Every point, I was thinking to give up. But I was fighting to end the match.”
Caroline Wozniacki played and won her second-round match once the roof had been closed on Rod Laver Arena.
“It was really pleasant in there. It was humid but nicer than playing in that 50 degree (122 degree F) heat or whatever it was.”
“It’s definitely better for the body playing under easier conditions.”