x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rise in temperatures to 34°C takes toll on the action at Australian Open

The year's first grand slam tournament is always affected by problems of heat with players such as Fernando Verdasco and Li Na struggling this time.

Fernando Verdasco, the Spanish player, feels the heat at Melbourne Park on Monday.
Fernando Verdasco, the Spanish player, feels the heat at Melbourne Park on Monday.

MELBOURNE // Players swathed themselves in ice packs, one felt ill and another complained she could not breathe on Monday as soaring heat made for a gruelling first day at the Australian Open.

As temperatures rose to 34°C, players sweated through afternoon matches at Melbourne Park and spectators dived for shade.

One fan sitting in the sun collapsed during Juan Martin del Potro's match against Adrian Mannarino, although medical workers blamed a pre-existing condition. Play was halted while she was taken away for treatment.

Fernando Verdasco, a first-round loser to the Australian teenager Bernard Tomic, said he felt physically sick during their four-hour encounter. The Spaniard appeared unwell as he draped himself in a towel stuffed with ice.

"I started feeling nauseous on the court. I just think it was a lot of heat," said Verdasco, a veteran of 24 five-setters. "I've been in Perth and Auckland and not one day was this hot. So it was tough to come here two days ago and go on court and play in these high temperatures."

Tomic said he regretted his decision to request a daytime match, saying he should have asked to play in the evening. "Silly me," he said. "Did not know that the heat was going to be like this."

Meanwhile, China's Li Na was left gasping for air as the mercury rose at the Hisense Arena during her win against Kazakhstan's Ksenia Pervak. "I'm not used to it. I came down from Sydney, but there it was only like 20°C. It was really tough today," the French Open champion said. "I was feeling at the end of the first set really the heat on the court. Also I was feeling no air. I couldn't breathe. Like I was feeling like, what's going on?"