Gael Monfils struggles in the Melbourne heat.
Gael Monfils struggles in the Melbourne heat.

Aus Open defends call not to initiate heat policy

AUSTRALIAN Open officials have declared the "health of players is of paramount concern" despite not initiating its extreme heat policy.

The tournament has copped a barrage of complaints from outraged fans on social media as temperatures at Melbourne Park neared 40 degrees and was nearly double that, at 69 degrees, on rod Laver Arena as six-time champion Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils did battle.

"The health of our players is of paramount concern, but we need to be consistent with the outside courts so some don't get an unfair advantage," the tournament tweeted in response to fans raising concerns.

"The referee will initiate the Extreme Heat Policy once the ambient temperature exceeds 40C & the Wet Bulb index (WBGT) exceeds 32.5C.

"The health of our players is of paramount concern to us, and we are constantly monitoring conditions. Let's hope it cools down!"

Gael Monfils struggles in the Melbourne heat.
Gael Monfils struggles in the Melbourne heat.

Monfils pleaded with the chair umpire and tournament referees to extend time between points during his match, declaring his is "going to collapse" if he isn't granted more time to get ready.

Players are only allowed 25 seconds between points.

"If I can't take longer than 25 seconds between points, I am going to collapse," he said during a change of ends.

"I'm sick to the stomach. I'm tired and dizzy".

Monfils has been seen by the tournament doctor after dropping the second set to Djokovic 3-6 after claiming the first 6-4.

Djokovic also showed signs of wilting in the heat as the match stretched beyond the three-hour mark but he held on to win  4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3.

Gael Monfils in a world of pain. Picture: Getty
Gael Monfils in a world of pain. Picture: Getty

"The sixth game of (the second set) set was the one that did the damage," Jim Courier said on Channel 7 of Monfils. "A 24-shot rally. Then he was pretty much toast from there, just hanging on for dear life really out there to try to get enough energy to play the next point.

"(He) had to leave several points go by. No energy at all in his legs to try and serve.

"He is saying that he can't confirm to the rules because he is just too exhausted."

Players have been using ice towels to cool down during the change of ends.

Garden square is usually packed, with no seats available.
Garden square is usually packed, with no seats available.

Melbourne Park is renowned for its unforgiving conditions in extreme heat and despite the conditions it has not activated the extreme heat policy.

That policy is applied at the discretion of referee Wayne McKewen

That decision is taken when the ambient temperature exceeds 40 degrees and the wet bulb globe temperature index exceeds 32.5 degrees.

Fans are trying everything in a bid to cool down.
Fans are trying everything in a bid to cool down.

No.3 seed Garbine Muguruza, who suffered a shock straight sets loss on Rod Laver Arena before the Djokovic-Monfils match, said Thursday's conditions aren't the worst she's faced at Melbourne Park.

"No, I had a more toughest match under the heat previous years in Australian Open, but today was - it was hot, but I don't think was the hottest day," she said.

Players aren't the only ones suffering in the conditions, with fans taking cover in any spot with shade they can find a bid to cool off.

Seats at the usually packed garden square were empty, while seats in the sun for Nick Kyrgios' doubles match on Show Court 3 were mostly empty.

A woman has been treated by St John Ambulance staff after collapsing near the main entrance.

Fans have called for the heat policy to come into effect.



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