After a day where sweltering temperatures caused one player to faint and another to vomit on the court, Andy Murray criticized the Australian Open's "extreme heat policy," voicing concern over the safety of players exposed to 108-degree heat Tuesday in Melbourne.
"It’s definitely something that you have to look at a little bit. As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe, it only takes one bad thing to happen. And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing. That’s not great."
Canada's Frank Dancevic fainted a set and a half into his match and China's Peng Shuai of China threw up on the side of the court. A ball boy collapsed during another match.
The Open's guidelines allow the tournament referee to halt play at outdoor venues and close the roofs of the main arena when the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature -- a composite figure that accounts for factors such as humidity and wind speed -- reaches a certain level. However, officials have not released what that number is.
"I know when I went out to hit before the match, the conditions at 2:30, 3 p.m. were very, very tough," said Murray, who breezed through his match against Go Soeda despite the heat. "Whether it’s safe or not, I don’t know. There’s been some issues in other sports with players having heart attacks."
Dancevic, who was forced to complete his match against Benoit Paire after regaining consciousness, was incredulous afterwards.
I think it's inhumane. I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out. I've played five-set matches all my life and being out there for a set and a half and passing out with heatstroke, it's not normal.
The players were having so many problems and complaining to the tournament that it's too hot to play. Until somebody dies, they'll just keep going on with it and putting matches on in this heat. I don't think it's fair and I know a lot of players don't think it's fair.
Not all players were bothered by the heat.
"It's just a mental thing," said Roger Federer, who cruised through his match with James Duckworth in 1 hour, 46 minutes. "If you've trained hard enough your entire life, and you believe you can come through it, there's no reason [to quit]. If you can't deal with it, you throw in the towel."