Oppressive temperatures have wreaked havoc at the US Open, with one player retiring ‘before he died’.
A second day of stifling heat and humidity prompted tournament organisers to implement special rules to provide some relief for suffering players.
With temperatures soaring towards 38 degrees amid crushing humidity, the United States Tennis Association announced that the 10-minute heat break the women players are granted between the second and third sets of their matches would be extended to the men as well.
“Upon the recommendation of the US Open medical team, the Extreme Heat Policy will be implemented immediately for men’s matches,” the USTA said in a statement.
“The men will be offered a 10-minute break between the third and fourth set.
“The Tournament Referee, along with the medical team, will continue to monitor on-site conditions, to determine when the Extreme Heat Policy will no longer be in effect.”
One fan collapsed in the stands at the sun-exposed court 17 during Petra Kvitova’s win over Yanina Wickmayer, causing the chair umpire to halt play while emergency medical personnel attended.
There were four mid-match retirements from the men’s draw, though not all were put down to heat stress.
Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer said it felt “like I was going to die”, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 2-1 down to Serbia’s Laslo Djere when he quit.
“I had heat stroke. I was not going to die on the court, tennis is not for that,” said the 31-year-old.
“In the locker room I saw several people lying there, just like me, it’s very hard. I could not do it anymore.”
Italian Stefano Travaglia retired at 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 3-0 down to Hubert Hurkacz, suffering severe cramping.
“It was 36, 37 degrees but on court it was more,” said the 26-year-old who admitted “the first problem was the sun”
“To have 25 seconds between points in this weather is not possible.
“There was a lot of humidity, it was really tough. I hope that in my next tournament it will be less hot.”
French player Alize Cornet described the conditions as a “nightmare”, weeping as she told doctors she was ready to vomit and felt pain in her head and bones.
Cornet was bizarrely hit with a code violation for changing her shirt on the court after putting it on the wrong way round during the “heat rule” break.
‘Worse than Australia’
Samantha Stosur warned US Open officials that conditions were becoming dangerous for players as the temperature soared.
The 2011 champion refused to blame the intense heat for her 6-3 6-2 first-round loss to Caroline Wozniacki but said the welfare of players was a concern.
“You do have to be careful. There were a couple of incidents yesterday as well and I think you’ve got to be sensible,” Stosur said.
“It was just bloody hot. I was drenched straight away … I mean, I felt fine but it was tough out there.
“My face was so red, I had to have a shower before I did anything else.
“What’s 10 minutes in the span of a whole day if it means the safety and health of the players for sure?” said Stosur, who likened the heat and humidity to being home in tropical Queensland but rated the conditions more uncomfortable to than at the Australian Open.
“Everyone always talks about how hot Melbourne is and ‘oh my god, it’s so bad and everything’, but the US Open’s way worse than Melbourne,” the veteran said.
“We get like one or two really hot days but I think they go on for longer and longer here in the States and there’s more retirements and everything here than what there ever is in Melbourne.
“But for some reason we get the bad rap in Australia.”