'Some of the worst': Tennis players lash out over Olympics 'joke'

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Daniil Medvedev, Ash Barty and Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action at the Olympics.
Daniil Medvedev, Ash Barty and Novak Djokovic all played through the oppressive conditions. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have called on Olympics organisers to change the tennis schedule after players battled through oppressive heat on Saturday.

The world's top two men's players led calls to move matches to the late afternoon for the rest of the competition to save players from the stifling conditions.

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Temperatures hovered around 34 degrees Celsius on Saturday and the high humidity made it extremely tough on players, who failed to find much comfort from ice bags and a hose blowing cool air.

French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova grasped for an air tube during a medical timeout and grew frustrated at the lack of ice in a court-side container.

German player Mona Barthel struggled with 10 double-faults in a loss to Iga Swiatek as the blinding sun made it nearly impossible to see the ball once she tossed it.

Australia's women's World No.1 Ash Barty was also in action in doubles with Storm Sanders, however the Queenslander found it much easier to adapt to the conditions.

Medvedev was the first to lash out over the conditions, describing them as "some of the worst" he's ever faced.

“We’re here and we know the matches will be early and you couldn’t practise at this time," he said.

"I don’t think they’re going to change it in the middle of the tournament, but that’s what can be done and the fact we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke.

“I think if you ask 200 tennis players here, I think 195 will say one minute is a joke and it should be 1:30 like it is in Asian tournaments.”

Calls to move Olympic tennis matches to evening

The World No. 2 suggested moving all matches to the evening and found support from Serbia's top-ranked Djokovic.

"I agree with him 100%," Djokovic said after finishing off his first-round match on the Centre Court of Ariake Tennis Park in an hour. 

"I actually asked as well. My team captain Viktor Troicki was speaking to the referee a couple of times.

"To be honest I don't understand why they don't start matches at say 3 pm. I heard for tennis there's some kind of curfew for them to finish by midnight. 

"If that's the case I just finished the last match. It's not even 5pm.

"We still have like seven hours to play. They have the lights on all the courts, they're going to make life much easier for all of us players. I just don't understand why they don't move it, I sincerely don't understand."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after his victory over Hugo Dellien at the Olympics.
Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Hugo Dellien at the Olympics. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The International Tennis Federation said its 'extreme weather policy' was implemented during the day.

The policy allows a 10-minute break between the second and third set if agreed by both players, while play can be suspended if conditions are deemed dangerous. 

Play on Centre Court can continue after the retractable roof is closed.

Pavlyuchenkova had to take a medical timeout after feeling dizzy during her win against Italy's Sara Errani.

She was struggling from dehydration even after spending an hour following her match to recover.

"I was thinking on court that for tennis players conditions are really rough," Pavlyuchenkova said, complaining that she was unable to find enough ice on court as it had melted.

"It's very hot out there, the sun is shining very bright, when you're serving it's right into your eyes. This is tough conditions but of course for everybody.

"They could have somehow tried to make it a bit easier on us but it's the Olympics so we can't really do much about it."

with agencies

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