The heat at the Australian Open has become a big issue n the past few days. Sadly Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray will no doubt be dismissed as simply moaning again but his comments that players and ball boys fainting on court “looks terrible for the whole sport,” are bang on the money.
With temperatures reaching 42.4C Chinese player Peng Shuai cramped up and vomited on court and Canada’s Frank Dancevic fainted on court. The Canadian passed out for over a minute. “I think its inhumane. I don’t think its fair to the players, to the fans, to the sport when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out.” he said in his press conference.
He has a point and the Australian Open has a record. The nine first round retirements – eight men and one woman – equalled the record for the most retirements or walkovers in a single round at any Grand Slam event in the Open era.
The one withdrawal in the Women’s draw came from Slovakia’s Polona Hercog who walked off after winning just one point in her match against Hopman Cup winner France’s Alize Cornet. She was trailing 1-0 in the first set, hit a winner and then retired. Having only played for ten minutes she still pocketed $30,000 for competing in the first round and picked up ten World Ranking points.
Although the heat had many players hot and bothered, former World Number One Roger Federer will not have won many friends on this occasion as he claimed it was not as big an issue as many were making out. “It can become just a mental thing and you just can’t accept that its hot. Just deal with it because its the same for both. That’s basically it.” he said. Mental toughness may be one part of it, but some people quite simply cannot handle the heat as well as others.
One has to feel that Andy Murray has a point, it is not a good image for the game when players are passing out, ball boys are passing out and players are vomiting on court. There needs to be a happy medium, but once again money talks and television schedules will frequently dictate terms as they are ultimately the ones paying the bills.