Hot Down Under

7

January 14, 2013 by Parveer Mann

Novak Djokovic wiping away sweat at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic wiping away sweat at the Australian Open

On the eve of the 2013 Australian Open, players will not only have to contend with each other but the extreme heat that can be equally debilitating. The 2012 tournament began with daytime temperatures exceeding 31 degrees Celsius and the 2009 Australian Open saw record temperatures of 44 degrees Celsius.

This is a trend that will not soon change. Every January, Melbourne is in the middle of the Australian summer that is famous for its dry heat. The difference is striking when you compare the average weather with the other Grand Slam venues in Paris, London and New York.

Australian Open (Melbourne) in January: Average temperature 27.4 degrees Celsius

French Open (Paris) in June: Average temperature 22 degrees Celsius

Wimbledon (London) in July: Average temperature 23 degrees Celsius

US Open (New York) in August: Average temperature 28 degrees Celsius

New York in August is the most similar with Melbourne but it still does not see the extreme highs of over 40 degrees Celsius. Since 1998, the Australian Open has had an Extreme Heat Policy in effect that tournament officials can enact when temperatures or humidity are high. When used, players only have to finish the current set of play and the match is only resumed when temperatures drop.

Former Wimbledon Champ Petra Kvitova cooling down at a previous Australian Open

Former Wimbledon Champ Petra Kvitova cooling down at a previous Australian Open

This week, the temperature on Thursday is expected to rise to 39 degrees Celsius and one can only guess that the Extreme Heat Policy will be a factor.  However, one thing is for sure, the players that emerge at this Australian Open will have to face extreme challenges to become a champion.

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7 thoughts on “Hot Down Under

  1. Jon Hureau says:

    This was an interesting read. I enjoy watching major tennis events, but the heat factor is just not something I think about when doing so. Are there certain players you know of who have a reputation for will struggling or excelling in extreme heat?

    • parveermann says:

      Thanks for the positive comments Jon. I would agree that watching the major events are always great theatre, a two week journey with so many great matchups. In terms of heat, I feel the players that excel seem to be those who already maintain a high fitness level. In contrast, those who have struggled have been players who are often seen as the big server type. An interesting evolution has been Novak Djokovic who early on in his career has retired in matches in Australia and New York due to heating and cramping issues and now with an evolved diet and fitness regimen, he is one of the better players in prolonged matches. Check out this article on how to manage your play when it’s that hot.

  2. I really need to get into more Tennis! Do you play or only follow?

    • parveermann says:

      I do both. I’ve been following tennis since I was a kid and can remember a many weekday morning in June and July watching Wimbledon on TV. I’ve also been playing recreational tennis for years but have started playing more in the last few years. It’s a great sport to get into and surprisingly uses a lot of strategy and tactics. I think the problem a beginner faces is access to courts without paying a lot, it’s tough but I can tell you there still are places you can play for fun and at no cost!

      • I know there was one place on Parkdale, but I am not certain anymore. It’s funny how all sports actually cost a bit of money. I think it’s cool that you watch and play tennis. Can you explain the 1-love thing to me please lol?

  3. Mark Darovny says:

    Do you think there will be impetus to build climate-controlled facilities to host some of these big tournaments? Are there any now? They all seem to be outdoors, but I’m not a tennis fan so I don’t know… and maybe it goes too far against tradition.

    But if these kinds of extremes become commonplace, you’d think it’s an idea some may consider (and not just from the player perspective, but the spectator one as well)

    • parveermann says:

      There has been some effort shown by the grand slams to build climate-controlled facilities. The Australian Open’s main court duplicates as a 15,500 arena for the Melbourne area so it has a roof. In the last few years, Wimbledon has famously constructed a roof for Centre court despite all of the tradition that place holds.

      However, you are correct that the majority is played outdoors and is susceptible to extreme weather. Ultimately, for most venues it is too costly to retrofit or build a climate-controlled facility for each court on site. It really will be important to see what the change in public opinion can do to the issue. Fans and Players have both been irate at the US Open in New York (the largest revenues of the 4 Grand Slams) for not have a roof on their two big courts and the lack of one has forced a Monday final for the four years. I feel we will start seeing more change as you said for players, spectators, and tennis to remain a viable option year-round.

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