Australian Open 2014: Andy Murray and co prepare for 'inhuman' heatwave of 40C in Melbourne

The tournament has an “extreme heat policy” under which the referee can suspend play on outside courts and close the roofs


With a heatwave forecast to begin here tomorrow, local media have been advising Melburnians on how to cope with the 40C-plus temperatures that are expected to prevail through to next weekend.

Among the tips in yesterday’s Herald Sun newspaper were recommendations to “leave a paddling pool in a shady spot for your dog” and to “wear a wide-brimmed hat”. Competitors at the Australian Open, which began here today, might have been amused by the advice to “exercise in the early morning and late evening”.

Andy Murray, who is due to play his first-round match against Japan’s Go Soeda tomorrow, will be among those who will have to cope with the challenging conditions, which can often be a feature of the year’s opening Grand Slam event. Particularly for those who have come from the cold of a European winter, it will be a brutal test.

It has been comparatively cool here for most of the last week – the temperature yesterday did not rise above 23C – but the weather is notoriously volatile in a city where it is said you can experience all four seasons in one day. A maximum of 33C was expected today and 42C is forecast for tomorrow, when ice-packs and ice-vests are sure to be in demand.

The tournament has an “extreme heat policy” under which the referee can suspend play on outside courts and close the roofs over the Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas, which both have retractable covers. In women’s singles and junior singles matches, there is also provision for a  10-minute break between the second and third sets. When Melbourne endured its most severe heatwave for more than a century during the tournament five years ago it was so hot that play was halted early in the day and did not resume until the middle of the evening.

However, matches are not stopped and the roofs are not closed until the conclusion of any sets which have already started. Maria Sharapova suffered under that rule seven years ago when she beat France’s Camille Pin 9-7 in the final set in the Rod Laver Arena. The heat rule was not applied until after the start of the deciding set, during which an over-heating and distressed Sharapova had to seek medical treatment. She later called the conditions “inhuman”.


The decision on whether to implement the heat rule is made on the basis of the “wet bulb globe temperature”, which takes into account temperature and other comfort factors, such as humidity and wind. Despite the high temperatures expected tomorrow, the rule may not be applied because the humidity is expected to be low.

Murray said that having a training base in Miami helped prepare for such extreme conditions, but added: “The difference between 32 degrees or whatever in Florida and 40 degrees is huge.

“It feels very different on the court. The court just gets so hot. The air is extremely, extremely hot as well. In Miami there tends to be a breeze; here when it’s 40 degrees it can be calm. The air feels warm in your face. Your legs and your feet burn. It’s very tough.”

At least Murray should not have to spend too long on court. Soeda, a 29-year-old Japanese ranked No 112 in the world, has won only three matches in 12 appearances in the main draw at Grand Slam tournaments.

Sharapova said she thought it was impossible to prepare fully for the heat expected this week. “You’re not really thinking so much about tennis as trying to really keep your mind focused on maybe keeping the points a little bit shorter,” she added. “ Obviously the longer they go, the worse it is for both of you out there.”

Novak Djokovic, who is seeking to win the Australian Open title for the fourth year in a row, has suffered in the Melbourne heat in the past. The Serb, who often had trouble lasting the pace in matches until he went on to a gluten-free diet, retired with heat exhaustion in the fourth set of his quarter-final against Andy Roddick five years ago.

“In the last couple of years, everything has been very good with my health and my physical state,” Djokovic said yesterday. “I’ve been working a lot, of course, with my team, making sure I’m fit and ready to play best-of-five in extreme conditions.”

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported recently that 2013 was the hottest year on record Down Under. There has been more of the same in the first two weeks of the new year. Last week record temperatures approaching 50C were registered in Central Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. South-east Australia is expected to be the next region to suffer.

Serena Williams, who has trained throughout her life in the heat of Florida and California, bemoaned the cool weather last week, saying it had put her “in a really bad mood”. Asked about the hot weather which is now forecast, the world No 1 smiled. “I’m not going to complain any more,” she said. “I should have kept my mouth quiet and dealt with the cold weather.”


Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape