December 29, 2018 / 3:44 AM / 5 months ago

Australian Open tweaks extreme heat policy

Tennis - Australian Open - Hisense Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2018. The heat stress tracker is pictured during the match between Alize Cornet of France and Elise Mertens of Belgium. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Players in the men’s draw at the Australian Open will be allowed 10-minute breaks during matches as part of an updated extreme heat policy at the year’s first Grand Slam.

Melbourne Park regularly sees days of scorching weather and organizers have come under fire from players who have complained of health and safety risks under the previous heat regime.

Tennis Australia said it would introduce a new “Heat Stress Scale” at the Jan. 14-27 tournament after conducting research with thermal experts at the University of Sydney.

The scale ranges from one to five, with one denoting “temperate playing conditions” and five triggering the suspension of play, the governing body said in a statement on Saturday.

Men will now join women in being permitted 10-minute breaks during extreme heat conditions, tournament director Craig Tiley said.

“In the men’s singles a 10-minute break will be allowed after the third set when a four (4.0) is recorded on the AO HSS (heat stress scale) prior to or during the first three sets of the match,” TA said.

When the scale reaches five, the tournament referee can suspend matches on outside courts and decide to close the roof on the three show-courts, Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena, which was formerly known as Hisense Arena.

The updated policy also introduces 15-minute breaks for wheelchair players.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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