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By Chris Oddo/ Thursday, January 16, 2014


After three hours and twenty-eight minutes under the blistering sun, Maria Sharapova shared her thoughts on the Australian Open's extreme heat policy in the press room.

Photo Source: Corleve.

Maria Sharapova was disapproving of the Australian Open's handling of its extreme heat policy after her three-set victory over Karin Knapp of Italy on Thursday in Melbourne.

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Speaking at a press conference after her three hour and twenty-eight-minute victory, the World No. 3 Russian expressed her frustration with what she perceived to be ambiguity in the policy.

“It's a tough call. I mean, I think the question I have is no one really knows what the limit is. Not the players; the trainers themselves, when you ask them, When will the roof be closed?

No one actually knows what that number is in comparison to humidity or the actual heat. Sometimes you wish you know, because it's--it just depends on I'm not sure who, a referee or the meteorologist, and there are just a lot of questions in the air that maybe, you know, should be solved.

Because I asked the trainer the other day, What does it take for the roof to be closed or matches to be stopped? She said, We have no control over this.”

Oddly, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the tournament took the words “predetermined threshold” out of its heat policy earlier in the week. According the the paper, Australian Open tournamenent referee Wayne McEwen had an explanation for that:

“I've got guidelines which I follow. We don't want to have a hard mark as to, OK if it hits this we stop play.

"Because we all know in Melbourne temperatures can fluctuate very quickly, and if we know it's going to cool down in the next half an hour or so we'll push through that period and then continue on into the cooler period. But if I know the temperatures will spike I would rather bring everyone in earlier rather than later.

“We want to have that little bit of flexibility for the players.”

Sharapova points out that there is a natural conflict between the rules of the sport and the safety of the players, something that needs to be considered.

“I mean, on one hand you're trying to get as much rest in between points as you can,” she said, “but then you have an umpire who is giving you a time violation.”

It's not just the players that are having difficulties with the sweltering heat. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that there have been 970 people treated for heat exhaustion.

Many players and journalist have been calling for more safer, more conservative policies.

Andy Murray, last year's runner-up in Melbourne, also called for a cautious approach. “As much as it's easy to say the conditions are safe--you know, a few people said there's doctors and stuff saying it's fine--it only takes one bad thing to happen,” said Murray. “And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing. That's obviously not great.”

The tournament makes its decisions based not on strictly temperature, but the wet bulb globe temperature, which is also used by military agencies and OSHA as a guide to managing workload in direct sunlight.

The WBGT is an index that is measurable, but players and journalists aren't privy to this information; most concur with Sharapova that no WBGT readings are being made available to them.

The worst part? It's not over yet. Temperatures are projected to reach around 105 Fahrenheit on Friday in Melbourne.


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