Four hours lost to heat on Melbourne outer courts

Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:20am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Organizers lost more than four hours of play on the outer courts when a third day of high temperatures at the Australian Open forced them to enact their "Extreme Heat Policy" on Thursday.

The policy was put into force at 1.50 pm local time (0250 GMT) as the mercury headed towards a peak of 43.4 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) and no play was possible until 6 pm.

In a bizarre turn of events, less than two hours after the resumption, the players were forced off the courts again by lightning and rain.

Play continued on the Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena through both stoppages after the retractable roofs over the main showcourts were closed.

Organizers had been slammed for forcing players to play on in searing temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday and the decision to stop play was largely welcomed.

"I think it's everybody saying that sometimes it's even too hot," said Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Olga Govortsova 6-0 7-5 under the closed roof on Hisense Arena.

"Some of the girls can't even talk after the match or practise. You can see who played a match, you know. Just so red.

"Today was really, really hard. Even indoors was ridiculous."   Continued...

Spectators wait for a storm to pass before play on courts outside start again at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed