The Heat Is On…

Jan 19, 2009

…And it’s only just begun. It was always going to be a tournament of intense heat and passion, and the first round lived up to the expectations worthy of Grand Slam first rounds. Those players who were expected to bow out early did so, whilst others made a name for themselves within the competition (some good examples are the young Aussie Bernard Tomic, and Jelena Dokic with impressive first round performances). At the other end of the scale, the more long-lasting competitors showed their metal, and what we should expect in further rounds.

There was an overriding theme, however, in the post-match interviews. The heat. The heat was rumoured to have had some effect on the courts, but it is its damage to the players which can be heartbreaking to watch.  Jelena Jankovic  had issues with the heat during today’s match, the court causing the soles of her feet to need treatment with ice: “Today it was so hot, my feet were really burning. If I’m going to go very far I have to deal with it.”

This, to come from a number one seeded player, shows just how tough the heat is going to be. Marcos Baghdatis, another renowned player in the Grand Slam, was seen stripping off his shirt and drenching himself with water during one break, commenting afterwards that ‘The sun, the sun, it’s just very strong – just even being out there, you cannot breathe.’

Playing such an energy-draining sport in intense heat can cause the usual effects of heat exhaustion: dizziness, feeling ‘delusional’, intense headaches, burning feet and badly shaking limbs. These symptoms were all seen in the last few years of the Australian Open, in some extreme cases even causing players to pull out. The Extreme Heat Policy (first introduced in 1998) aims to protect players from having to take such drastic measures (it steps in when the temperature hits 35 degrees), but still the heat is a thorn in the side of any Australian Open player.

Tomorrow, Britain’s remaining female hope (Elena Baltacha) and male prodigy (Andy Murray) go out into the intense heat to compete. Rafael Nadal, ranked number one in the world, also competes in his first round match tomorrow. Let’s hope that the players we expect such great things from can adapt quickly to the heat as they have done in previous years; the potential for anyone having to drop out because of it would be incredibly disappointing.


-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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