MELBOURNE, Australia — Earlier this week, Serena Williams complained about the unseasonably cool weather in Melbourne. “Cold weather puts me in the worst of moods,” she tweeted. “And right now it’s freezing in Melbourne.” She may have jinxed the tournament.
A heat wave is set to hit Melbourne on Monday, just in time for the start of the Australian Open, with some forecasts predicting a high of 107 degrees during the first week of the Australian Open. It’s a shocking temperature swing, especially considering the cool 70 degree temperature players enjoyed on Sunday, just 24 hours before the start of the tournament.
Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic knows what these extreme temperatures can do to your body. He was forced to retire to Andy Roddick in the 2009 Australian Open quarterfinals when temperatures on Rod Laver Arena exceeded 104 degrees. Fast forward five years and the Serb is now tennis’ Iron Man, and he didn’t sound too concerned about the forecast.
“Last couple years, everything has been very all right with my health, with my physical state,” he told reporters in his pre-tournament press conference. “I’ve been working, of course, a lot with my team, making sure I’m fit and ready to play best‑of‑five in extreme conditions.”
Andy Murray, who trains in the heat and humidity of Florida, said nothing can prepare you for Melbourne when the heat seats in. “The court just gets so hot,” he told reporters. “The air is extremely, extremely hot as well. I mean, in Miami, there tends to be a breeze. Here when it’s 40 degrees, it can be calm. The air feels warm in your face. Your legs and your feet burn. No, I mean, the stuff that I do there helps, but you can’t prepare for that heat. It’s very tough.”
Tournament organizers are already preparing for the impact from the heat, proactively handing out copies of the tournament’s extreme heat policy to journalists. The policy allows play to be stopped for heat at the Tournament Referee’s discretion. For the two courts that have retractable roofs, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, play will continue until the completion of a set, at which point the Referee can decide to close the roof for the remainder of the match. That decision will only come if the Referee decides to suspend play on the outdoor courts.
In addition, a 10-minute heat break will be allowed between the second and third sets of a women’s singles match if the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer, which measures a variety of factors such as temperature, humidity, and wind, reads 30.1 before the start of the match.