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Heat Relief: Olympic Matches to Start Later in Day

Blistering heat has stifled some stars at the Tokyo Olympics.

Players should benefit from a later match start time on Thursday.

More: Badosa Succumbs to Stifling Heat

Thursday's Olympic match schedule will start at 3 p.m. rather than the standard 11 a.m. in an effort to aid players' "health and welfare," the ITF announced.

"In the interests of player health and welfare and following extensive consultation, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event matches will begin at 3pm JST from Thursday 29 July," the ITF announced. 

Several stars, including second-ranked Daniil Medvedev and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, called on the ITF to start matches later in the day citing oppressive conditions and the fact the afternoon start time at least creates some shade on the Centre Court.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said it's senseless to start play at 11 a.m. given oppressive heat and the fact the Ariake Tennis Park has plenty of courts with lights.

"To be honest I don’t understand why they don’t start matches at say 3 p.m," Djokovic said at the start of the tournament. "They have lights on all the courts, they're going to make life much easier for all of us tennis players, I just don't understand why they don't move it.

"It's actually for the TV broadcasters even better, because the later you play, the better it is for the United States and the time zones in Europe."

The ITF listened to player requests after a brutal day of play on Wednesday that saw Spaniard Paula Badosa retire from heat illness after dropping the opening set to Marketa Vondrousova.

Medvedev looked hobbled by the heat at times during his three-set win over Fabio Fognini.

At one point, the Australian Open finalist told umpire Carlos Ramos: “I can finish the match but I can die. If I die, are you going to be responsible?”

The forecast calls for continued sweltering conditions in Tokyo with the prospect of rain.

Photo credit: Getty