the thermometer is racing in Melbourne, the players spared

“With two eggs, I made you a small, quiet omelette for breakfast!” » The joke, signed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, dates back to the 2014 Australian Open, when the Frenchman felt his shoes melt – literally – on the court. Players or ball boys falling ill, spectators suffocating and deserting the stands… the first Grand Slam of the season, which takes place in the middle of the southern summer, is renowned for its sometimes extreme conditions.

“We push our limits super far. I feel like they [les organisateurs] wait for there to be a drama to change [la règle] », was alarmed the player Alizé Cornet, herself victim of a heatstroke during the 2018 edition. To remedy this, the tournament adopted, in 2019, a specific scale (“heat stress scale”), which takes into account not only temperature, but also other variables, such as humidity and wind. Tuesday, January 17, on this scale which has five levels, the last was reached shortly before 2 p.m., when the mercury showed 38 degrees Celsius in the shade, resulting in the interruption of matches until 5 p.m., except on the three main courts, which have a roof: the Rod Laver Arena, the Margaret Court Arena and the John Cain Arena.

Read also: At the Australian Open, the heat wave warms the spirits of the players

Straw hat on her head, frozen yogurt in hand, Jane understands the decision of the organizers: “It’s not a problem at all, the health of the players matters more than anything”believes the 67-year-old, from New South Wales, the state north of Victoria.

head in the fan

On court number 15, Benjamin Bonzi saw his match (4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4) against the Italian Mattia Bellucci stopped at the end of the third set: “It was the first time I experienced this regulation. Honestly, I felt good when we stopped, and he seemed to have taken a hit, so I would have liked to continue. I found the conditions much worse on Saturday in training, where the air was hot. Afterwards, these are the rules, you have to comply with them”comments the 26-year-old Frenchman (48e world), who did not drag out, on his return to the court, to conclude.

Scheduled for the second match of the day on center court before the roof was deployed, Caroline Garcia dispatched her first round in just over an hour (6-3, 6-0). “We felt that it was warming up well, says the Frenchwoman, seeded noh 4 of the tournament, but the exchanges were rather short, that helped. »

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