The Australian Open has made some steps to make the tremendous heat more bearable for the players. The tournament’s heat policy has been amended so that when extreme conditions are declared matches in progress won’t have to be immediately finished. Plus, there is a new surface that retains less heat.
Before, players who had just started a match had to complete it despite the extreme heat. From now on, they will have to finish only the ongoing set.
In another change announced Saturday, the decision to suspend play will be solely at the discretion of the tournament referee. Previously, Open organizers used a specific cutoff point, based on calculations of a set of weather readings that included court temperature and humidity.
One more important novelty is that the newly installed Plexicushion courts have a thinner layer of rubberized cushioning so they retain less heat than the previously used Rebound Ace surface.
And that’s not all, the January 14-27 tournament at Melbourne Park will probably have an onsite weather station and meteorologist so that organizers could receive forecasts instantly.
The Australian Open director Craig Tiley said several top players from Australia and overseas had been consulted about the changes and the feedback was, of course, positive.
By the way, don’t forget that players at the next year’s tournament at Melbourne Park will have more challenges.