Although there's no shortage of star power on display at Melbourne Park this January, the scorching temperatures have stolen the show through the opening rounds of the 2014 Australian Open.
Updates from Thursday, Jan. 16
The intense heat has forced play to be suspended on Day 4 of the 2014 Australian Open, according to the Associated Press' Justin Bergman (via Weather.com):
Having already taken enough heat for not stopping matches earlier, blistering temperatures finally halted play on Day 4 of the 2014 Australian Open as a high temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded nearby.
The Extreme Heat Policy was enacted at Melbourne Park just before 2 p.m. Thursday, suspending all matches on outer courts until the early evening and requiring the closure of the retractable roofs at Rod Laver and Hisense arenas before play could continue on the show courts.
It was the first time since 2009 play had been halted due to heat at the Australian Open.
According to Weather.com, temperatures in the 100s (Fahrenheit) are projected to stick around through the first week, finally giving way to cooler weather for the tournament's first weekend.
While lower temperatures appear to be on the way, the crippling heat, which reached 108 F (42 Celsius) on Tuesday, Jan. 14, has already taken its toll.
Canadian men's competitor Frank Dancevic fainted during his first-round match and required medical attention. Dancevic called tournament officials' decision to allow players to play on "inhumane," according to BBC Sport.
Two-time Grand Slam champion and men's No. 4 seed Andy Murray was also critical of Australian Open officials, per BBC Sport:
It doesn't look good for the sport when people are collapsing. Most of the players are conditioned well enough to last in that weather but doing it for three or four hours is tough to recover from.
Whether it's safe, I don't know, but there have been issues in other sports with players collapsing and you don't want to see anything bad happen to anyone.
In addition to Dancevic's incident, a ball boy collapsed under the heat on Court 8 on Day 2.
While it won't make the players feel any better, tournament officials have made it clear there is a policy in place in case the weather conditions worsen, per the tournament's official Twitter account:
"We've got a heat policy at the AO that takes into a variety of temperatures - taking in the humidity & a few other factors" Wayne McKewen— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 13, 2014
To give you an idea of the severity of the heat, one of Caroline Wozniacki's water bottles actually melted on court. According to the former world No. 1, who was on court for just over an hour, the plastic on the bottom of the bottle "started melting a little bit," per BBC Sport.
Men's No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini was one of the few players enjoying the heat on Day 2:
Known as the "Happy Slam," the season's first major has been anything but enjoyable for many players as the dangerous conditions have only added to the challenge of winning matches at a Grand Slam event.
It remains to be seen whether officials will suspend play in the coming days as a result of the soaring temperatures. Regardless, relief is on the way, as a 35-degree swing over the weekend could have players and spectators reaching for sweatshirts.
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