Cornet tries to cool herself during her match at the 2022 Australian Open.

How hot is it at the Australian Open?

Rohit
ANALYST

Simona Halep and Alize Cornet's fourth-round clash at the 2022 Australian Open once again highlighted how extreme weather conditions have had an adverse effect on the players. Both women gave it their all but were visibly bothered by the heat.

This is a crazy match played in horrible weather conditions, both of them are 2 fighters and they deserve everyone's respect for fighting and giving their all!
10:18 AM · Jan 24, 2022
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Temperatures of upto 35°C (95°F) were predicted last week, which are to last until Tuesday. As the week progresses, the likelihood of thunderstorms will increase as well according to the weather forecast.

The Melbourne Major is held in the middle of summer in Australia, where soaring temperatures have often bothered players. In 2009, defending champion Novak Djokovic retired from his quarterfinal match due to heat stress. In 2014, nine players retired during their first-round matches due to the severe heat, as the temperature soared to 43.9°C (111°F).

The often unbearable temperatures have resulted in an Extreme Heat Policy at the Australian Open.

What is the Extreme Heat Policy at the Australian Open?

Spectators trying to cool themselves at the Melbourne Major
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To help players handle extreme weather conditions at the Australian Open, the tournament devised a policy that would help players combat the situation.

After the inauguration of Rod Laver Arena in 1988, which featured a retractable roof, the heat policy at the time allowed the roof to be closed if temperatures soared above 39°C (102°F). The referee was allowed to use his/her discretion in the matter and the roof could be closed even if it went past 35°C (95°F).

But this was limited to only day session matches and could only be enforced when all singles matches could be played at Rod Laver Arena.

The first time the rule came into effect was during the 1997 Australian Open. The following year, an official policy was formally implemented. According to it, play on all the courts was to be halted if the temparature hit 40°C (104°F). This threshold was reduced to 38°C (100°F) in 2002.

In 2003, the threshhold was reduced once again, to 35°C (95°F) along with a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) of 28°C (82°F). WBGT is a measure of heat stress in direct sunlight and takes into account the effect of wind speed, humidity and other relevant factors on humans.

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In 2008, the rules were changed to allow matches that were in play to be paused at the conclusion of the set. The policy was further amended to allow the tournament referee to pause the proceedings at his discretion rather than relying on the temperature scale.

The 2014 Australian Open grappled with extremely high temperatures for a few days. Due to extreme temperatures between 41.5 and 43.9°C (106.7 and 111.0°F), play had to be halted for quite some time. This led to delays in the schedule so the policy was changed again.

For the 2015 Australian Open, the temperature limit was raised from 35 to 40°C (95 to 104°F) and the WBGT threshold was increased from 28 to 32.5°C (82 to 91°F).

From the 2019 Australian Open onward, the AO Heat Stress Scale was to be used to determine the course of action following temperature increases. Taking into account relevant factors like humidity, heat, etc, a scale of 1 to 5 was devised based on which the decision was to be made.

1 - Temperate playing conditions

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2 - Increase hydration

3 - Apply cooling strategies

4 - Extended breaks

5 - Suspension of play

More information regarding the Heat Stress Scale is available here.


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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
 
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