News ID: 236611
Published: 1205 GMT December 29, 2018

Australian Open unveils new policy for extreme heat levels

Australian Open unveils new policy for extreme heat levels
Gael Monfils struggles with the heat during his second round match against Novak Djokovic on day four of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in 2018.

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 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, The Independent reported.

Temperatures soared toward 40°C 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.

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 40°C, 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."


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