MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One player fainted mid-match as temperatures topped 42C (108F) at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Others said it felt like they were playing tennis in a sauna, or on a frying pan that sizzled their soles.
The scorching heat on Day 2 thinned crowds at Melbourne Park and prompted players to cool off between points with bags of ice on their heads or draped over their necks. Little relief was expected this week, with similar heat forecast until Friday
Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he started feeling dizzy in the first set of his match against Benoit Paire and then collapsed in the next set.
"I couldn't keep my balance anymore and I leaned over the fence, and when I woke up people were all around me," he said. After receiving medical attention, he returned to the match and lost in straight sets.
"It's hazardous to be out there. It's dangerous," Dancevic said, criticizing the tournament for not having suspended play. "Until somebody dies, they're just going to keep playing matches in this heat."
The tournament has not yet invoked its "Extreme Heat Policy," saying the decision is based on a quotient of air temperature, humidity and wind speed.
Officials have played down health risks, saying the majority of matches were completed without calls for medical attention.
"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," Tim Wood, the tournament's chief medical officer, said in a statement.
A ball girl was treated for heat stress during a morning match, and the tournament shortened rotations for the ball kids to 45-minute shifts.
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