Murray warns over ‘melting pot’ dangers

Andy Murray has warned the Australian Open it risks damaging the reputation of tennis after players were forced to play in searing heat in Melbourne yesterday.

Murray warns over  ‘melting pot’ dangers

Temperatures topped out at 42.2 degrees Celsius at 5.45pm, just after Murray began his first-round match against Japan’s Go Soeda, which he went on to win 6-1 6-1 6-3.

The pair were fortunate that Hisense Arena is one of the stadium courts, so they were at least able to play in shade.

Canadian player Frank Dancevic and a ballboy both collapsed on court, China’s Peng Shuai vomited, while Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic burnt her backside on a seat.

The tournament implemented part of its extreme heat policy, with women being given a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, but they decided not to put it fully into operation, which would have seen play suspended and roofs on show courts closed.

Dancevic described the conditions as “inhumane”, adding: “having players with so many problems and complaining to the tournament that it’s too hot to play, until somebody dies.”

Murray said: “It’s definitely something that you maybe have to look at a little bit. As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe – a few people said there’s doctors saying it’s fine – it only takes one bad thing to happen.

“And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing.

“There’s been some issues in other sports with players having heart attacks. I don’t know exactly why that is. In this heat, that’s when you’re really pushing it to your limits. You don’t want to see anything bad happen to anyone.”

In a statement, chief medical officer Tim Wood said: “The majority of matches were completed without any court calls from the medical team.

“Of course there were a few players who experienced heat-related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match. Generally the playing group coped extremely well.”

Victoria Azarenka felt like she was “dancing in a frying pan” but the defending champion managed to avoid jumping into the fire.

Azarenka, the champion for the last two years, avoided the worst of it by playing in the first match against Johanna Larsson of Sweden, but for a while the second seed looked in trouble before coming through 7-6 (7/2) 6-2.

Third seed Maria Sharapova had the best of the scheduling, playing Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.

Mattek-Sands lost the first four games but fought back well and it was tighterthan the 6-3 6-4 scoreline indicated.

Tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki — whose water bottle melted on court — dropped only two games in defeating Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0 6-2.

Wozniacki is playing in her first grand slam since becoming engaged to golfer Rory McIlroy but insists she is as hungry as ever to try to be a grand slam force once more.

The 23-year-old has not reached the quarter-finals at one of the sport’s fourbiggest tournaments for two years.

She said: “I think I’m in a very good place in my life right now, on the courtand off the court. I know what I want. I want to improve all the time. I want tobe the best.”

Meanwhile it was a night of what might have been for the home crowd as Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic both made their exits, the latter crying off injured after he lost the first set to Rafael Nadal.

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