The 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament began on a blisteringly hot Tuesday in Melbourne. The temperatures rose to a brutal 109 degrees.
The effect on the players was obvious and troubling. Players suffered from severe cramps, and some even had trouble breathing. A few players simply quit because they couldn’t stand the heat. Still, officials didn’t put the Extreme Heat Policy into effect until Thursday.
The Extreme Heat Policy (EHP) requires the roofs to be closed on the stadiums, keeping most of the heat outside. The players who quit were furious at the delay. Benoit Paire, who is ranked number 24, claimed the weather was “inhumane.” Canada’s Frank Dancevic, ranked 122, fainted during a first-round match. Victoria Azarenka declared that “playing in Rod Laver Arena was like dancing in a frying pan.” Spectators’ and players’ water bottles melted. Officials explained that they were not allowed to put to put the EHP into effect because the EHP deals with heat stress, humidity, wind speed, and radiation. According to officials, humidity and windspeed were too low to close the roofs.
Officials should have closed the roofs on the first day. If the players are suffering and the heat is causing players to play poorly, seal the stadiums! A grand slam tennis tournament should not be decided based on who can survive 109-degree weather. In the end, the EHP actually didn’t have much effect because the heat wave ended Friday — one day after roofs were closed. The weather dropped back into the 70s, which was considered “chilly.”
There were a few players who were able to deal with the heat much more easily. Li Na was one of these players. Coming from one of China’s “oven” regions, she considered the heat warm but playable. She definitely had an advantage based on the conditions this year. In the women’s final, Li became the first Asian woman to win the Australian Open. Good for her! She played really well.
The Williams sisters did not get very far in the Aussie Open this year. Venus was defeated in the first round by Ekaterina Makarova, who at the time was ranked 22. The win bumped Makarova to 19. Venus was more gracious in comparison to her sister, Serena, giving Ekaterina lots of credit for playing really well. Serena lost to former Number 1 Ana Ivanovic. After the match, Serena claimed that she had been experiencing back pains and had not played her best because of it. The press and media were very upset by Serena’s failure to give the credit to Ivanovic for playing so well. Later, Serena told the press that she gave all the credit to Ivanovic.
The biggest surprise in the men’s Aussie Open was a Swiss player named Stanislas Wawrinka. The eighth-seeded Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic and later an injured Rafael Nadal in the final to win the title. During the trophy ceremony, Wawrinka said that he didn’t know if he was dreaming and he would find out tomorrow morning. The next morning Wawrinka awoke to find that he was not dreaming.