Heat is on Hewitt to win first Australian Open crown

New year forecast: what to expect in the next 12 months

By John Roberts
Tuesday 31 December 2002 01:00

A change has been made in the extreme heat policy at the Australian Open, due to start on 13 January. A combination of lower air temperature and the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), will be used to decide if it is safe for matches to be played outdoors.

WBGT is a combination of ambient air temperature, humidity, intensity of solar radiation and wind speed, which together affect the ability of an individual to lose heat whether exercising or sitting still.

Matches will not be played outdoors if the air temperature reaches 35C in conjunction with a WBGT of 28 or above. At that point matches will only go ahead in the Rod Laver Arena and the Vodafone Arena, both of which have retractable roofs.

The heat will be on Lleyton Hewitt as the Wimbledon champion and world No 1 tries to win his home Grand Slam singles title for the first time. An Australian Open singles title has also eluded the Williams sisters, who contested the three other Grand Slam finals in 2002. Serena, the younger of the Californian siblings, will be attempting to win her third consecutive major singles championship, what she terms a "Serena Slam".

Whatever happens in Melbourne, Britain's Davis Cup team, already without Greg Rusedski but still hoping Tim Henman will be fit to play, are likely to face a torrid weekend against Australia in the first-round tie in Sydney a week later.

Pete Sampras will delay the start of his 15th season, his goal being to give a good account of himself at the French Open, which he has never won, Wimbledon, where he has won seven times, and in the defence of the US Open title he won so dramatically last September.

Prediction: Henman or Rusedski to win Wimbledon.

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