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Australian Open tweaks heat policy for 2015

By EMN Updated: Dec 03, 2014 11:05 pm

MELBOURNE, December 3

Australian Open organisers have tweaked their ‘Extreme Heat Policy’ for next year’s tournament after being accused of forcing players to perform in “inhumane” conditions during a heatwave in January. Despite water bottles melting, ballboys collapsing and players vomiting and passing out when temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for four days at this year’s tournament, play was stopped for only four hours on the outer courts.
There was a groundswell of criticism from players, mainly over the lack of transparency about when the policy would be implemented as it was entirely at the discretion of the tournament referee and not triggered by temperatures reaching a certain level.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said on Tuesday the addition of a roof over a third showcourt, the Margaret Court Arena, would mitigate the effects of hot weather and he hoped the changes to the policy would make matters clearer to players.
“The heat policy, as always, will be applied at the referee’s discretion,” Tiley told reporters.
“The decision on implementing the heat policy will take into account the forecast once the ambient temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, and the Wet Bulb Global Temperature (WBGT) reading exceeds 32.5.
“When conditions exceed these levels the referee is taking into account the forecast and state of play when making his discretionary call.”
Rather than use the raw Celsius readings to assess the heat, organisers prefer to use the WBGT composite, which also gauges humidity and wind to identify the perceived conditions.
In another change, when the policy is enacted matches in progress will continue until the end of an even number games in that set or completion of tie break, limiting the exposure of players to the heat.
The loudest complaints in January came from Canadian player Frank Dancevic, who lambasted organisers after collapsing during his first round match on an uncovered outside court.
“I think it’s inhumane, I don’t think it’s fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out,” he said.
“Having players with so many problems and complaining to the tournament that it’s too hot to play, until somebody dies, they’re just keep going on with it and putting matches on in this heat.”
Meteorologist Bob Leighton said long-range forecasts indicated that there would be no similar heatwave this year at the Jan 19-Feb 1 tournament at Melbourne Park.
“At this stage it’s looking like a normal summer, perhaps slightly warmer, with only one day hitting around 40 degrees, and little or no rain forecast,” he said.

Nadal looks ahead to the Australian Open

London, December 3

Former world No 1 Rafael Nadal says he is motivated for the challenge of returning to the courts after enduring a torrid time in 2014.
The 28-year-old Spaniard suffered a series of knee, back and wrist injuries throughout the year which culminated in missing the ATP World Finals in November.
Nadal reported on his official Facebook page that he had returned to training on Monday after recovering from surgery on his appendix.
He told Spanish newspaper AS: “It’s always a bit tough starting off after a few difficult months, without any continuity, and after the last month-and-a-half without being able to play any sport and the appendicitis.
“What I have to do this month is to get myself fit physically, progress my tennis as much as possible and lay the foundations to start well in Abu Dhabi and in Doha. Then take advantage of those tournaments to recover the competitiveness that I’ve not had for months due to the injuries.”
Nadal endured an up and down year during 2014, which started with falling short of his bid for a second Australian Open title where he was beaten in the final by Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka.
The Spaniard then made history at Roland Garros when cemented his reign as the king of clay with a thrilling four-set victory over Novak Djokovic to win his record ninth French Open title.
After struggling with injury following his record-breaking win, the 14-time Grand Slam champion was famously stunned in the fourth round at Wimbledon by teenage sensation Nick Kyrgios before missing the defence of his US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.
Following problems with his appendix, Nadal had to end his season early after undergoing surgery, but he remained optimistic of his recovery and chances ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia.
“If you train well and you feel right physically, the process is much quicker,” he said. “In a few days you pick up the speed of the ball again, the movement in the legs and, if I do good work at home and I play well at the start of the year, that could be enough to arrive in Australia well prepared.”
“What I must do is play well, prepare, and when the moment comes, give myself opportunities. If one of those is in the final rounds, anything could happen.”
Despite Nadal’s troubles throughout the season, the Spaniard is still third in the world rankings and will look to close the gap on Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – who sit above him – when he returns.
Nadal is likely to make his first start in Abu Dhabi, a tournament where seven-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic will also feature.
“I think Federer has finished the year very well, the same as Djokovic,” he said on his two big rivals. “They are going start again strongly and I from almost zero, with more problems. I have to recover what I’ve lost during the last six months. It’s a nice challenge to overcome and I’m motivated.”

Leander Paes to play with Hingis in Oz Open

PUNE, December 3

Centuries are special to cricketers, but are rare for a tennis player. Leander Paes is nearing one. The 41-year-old tennis player has found his 99th men’s doubles partner in South African Raven Klaasen. Paes, then, also announced Martina Hingis as his 24th mixed doubles partner and will play with her in the upcoming Australian Open.
“When I select a partner, I want him to have my weaknesses as his strengths. Raven has world-class backhand and big serves, which is a big plus for our partnership,” Paes said during a media interaction on the sidelines of the ongoing Premier Tennis League (PTL) on Tuesday.
“I will be playing with Raven in the Australian Open next year, but we are contemplating playing in a few warm-up tournaments before that. It may be Doha or Chennai,” said the Indian, who had partnered Czech Radek Stepanek before Klaasen. Incidentally, Paes has had some successful partnerships with Czech players.

By EMN Updated: Dec 03, 2014 11:05:25 pm