• Australian Open

Play suspended at Australian Open due to heat

ESPN staff
January 16, 2014
Sharapova and Wozniacki through in extreme heat

Play was brought to a halt on Thursday at the Australian Open as temperatures hit 43°C in Melbourne.

The extreme heat policy was implemented, with play being suspended on outer courts and the retractable roofs being closed on Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas. The organisers of the tournament allowed women's matches to have an extended break at the end of the second set to enable the players to cool down.

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"For outside courts new matches will not be called until the temperature falls back down to one deemed fit for play by the tournament director," the organisers said in a statement.

Sharapova played her match against Karin Knapp in the extreme conditions, and was unhappy at the communication between the players and officials.

"We have never received any emails or warnings about the weather or what to do," she said after coming through an epic. "Actually, I did receive one, I think, while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago, and I was like, 'that's a little too late'."

Around 970 people have been treated because of the heat, and tournament referee Wayne McKewen had been criticised for failing to stop play over the last couple of days. Play was suspended for around four hours.

Alize Cornet, who is set to play Sharapova in the next round, was reduced to tears on court after she won her match in two-and-a-half hours.

"I think I spent enough time on this court for today. I went really further than my limits. It was really hot, that's why I'm so emotional. Doing something physical in this heat it's just unbelievable. Even you guys [in the crowd] sitting in the sun, it must be terrible."

Varvara Lepchenko received treatment during a medical timeout, and said: "I think they definitely should have just not started the matches in the first place.

"And the same goes for a couple of days ago when I played my [first-round] match. It was just the hottest time of the day and I got caught up in that.

"Somehow I survived, but today it just didn't work, and I think they should have started matches after the temperature cooled down a little bit, because this is just too much."

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