Federer: Have to play in all conditions

Australian Open organisers defended their heat policy on Friday as Roger Federer downplayed the oven-like conditions on court, saying players should be fit enough to deal with it.

By Agencies in Melbourne
  • Published 20.01.18
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Melbourne: Australian Open organisers defended their heat policy on Friday as Roger Federer downplayed the oven-like conditions on court, saying players should be fit enough to deal with it.

The comments follow suffocating weather at Melbourne Park on Thursday, which some players struggled with, and more of the same on Friday.

Novak Djokovic on Thursday described the conditions as "brutal", complaining it was hard to breathe and they were "right on the limit". Organisers will only activate the extreme heat policy and halt play or close roofs when the temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and the Wet Bulb Globe temperature index hits 32.5 Celsius.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said the Australian Open was one of the only events in the world to actually have a heat policy.

"The policy is formalised after consultation with players, and remember in most places, be it the Middle East or others parts where it is very warm, they don't have a heat policy," he said.

"Throughout the site we have ice misters, there's plenty of water. For the players there's ice vests, there's longer periods of rest and they of course have shade on their chairs," he added. "These are professional athletes. We are at the end of the day an outdoor event.

"We want it to stay an outdoor event as long as possible but at the same time ensuring that the health and well-being of players is taken care of."

Federer escaped the worst on Thursday, playing a night match on Rod Laver Arena, but said he had endured searing Australian temperatures plenty of times and experienced worse.

"If you want to get to the top, you've got to play in all conditions," he said. "We know it can be very hot here in Australia. I remember the days when we had four days of 40 degrees in a row a few years back. Now we got two.

"It's definitely a challenge... It's hard to prepare for that in some ways. But you know when you come down here that can happen. Sure, I was watching the other players suffer. As long as nothing bad happens, it's all good."

Among those in trouble was Gael Monfils, with fears for his health in his mid-afternoon match against Djokovic. The Frenchman, known as one of the fittest players on tour, looked dazed and confused in the second set and eventually got medical assistance.