Melbourne: The Australian Open’s revised Extreme Heat Policy (EHP) could be triggered on the opening day of the Grand Slam event as Melbourne braces itself for sweltering conditions.
An expected maximum temperature of 37 degrees Celsius on Monday would now be enough for the new policy to kick in.
The trigger conditions for match postponements have been lowered for this year. Now, the EHP will come into effect when the air temperature hits 35 degrees — down from last year’s 38, and an introductory 40 degrees in 1998 — and when the heat stress measure known as the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) reaches 28.
Both must occur simultaneously. The WBGT is a combination of air temperature, humidity, intensity of solar radiation and wind speed. Matches in progress would finish but no further play would be allowed until conditions eased. Tournament chief executive Paul McNamee on Monday defended the lowering of the trigger conditions.
“The players are one factor, but we’re doing it primarily for the staff, for the ball kids — the kids are more affected by heat than adults are — and all the umpires and staff,” McNamee said.
“The fittest people here are actually the players. I know they’re exerting themselves the most, but they’re also the fittest people here.” McNamee said lights on outside courts had been upgraded.