Heat rule enforced for first time, to the relief of some and the surprise of others (Evans)

With temperatures over 35 degrees, players went inside for three hours as the Heat Stress Scale was used

Heat Rule Australian Open AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Tucked away in one corner of the press room at Melbourne Park, there is a screen with a semi-circle of five colours and a series of numbers from 1-5.

At first glance, it looks like a rainbow; in fact it is an illustration of the AO Heat Stress Scale, a system designed by the University of Sydney to work out when play should be stopped at the Australian Open.

The Extreme Heat Policy was enforced at this year’s event for the first time on Tuesday as temperatures exceeded 35 degrees Celsius and the humidity forced the stress scale to reach 5, where play is suspended.

Under the policy, play is stopped if 5.0 is reached on the Heat Stress Scale, play will be suspended once the score reaches an even number of games in the set.

While play continued on the show courts thanks to the luxury of having the roof closed, there was no tennis outside for three hours.

The break was useful for many of them, able to get themselves out of the brutal heat, to have a shower and something to eat.

Evans watches Roy Keane on YouTube

Others did something different.

“I had a bit of food, I showered, obviously, stretched out,” said Britain’s Dan Evans, who was leading Facundo Bagnis by two sets to one when the break came.

“Then I had a lie down. I mean, I actually watched Roy Keane on that Tommy Tiernan show. It was quite a good 37 minutes, if you really want to know what I did. Then, yeah, stretched again and got ready to go.”

Even though he has been coming to Australia for many years, Evans said the break in play took him by surprise.

“I mean, it’s strange because I never even knew about the rule, to be honest,” he said. “I came back from the toilet and then the guy said, you’re going in. I never knew about the rule. I never thought about it. I just knew it was hot. Once the wind stopped it was horrible.”

Fritz would have liked the roof to stay open

Taylor Fritz began his match with Nikoloz Basilashvili outdoors but the match then became an indoor match when the roof was closed.

Conditions changed, conditions were cooler and slower, which was not exactly to Fritz’s benefit.

“I’d say from the ground I probably wanted it to be faster, so it would have been nice if we kept playing outside if it was hot,” said Fritz, who is used to hot weather as a Floridian.

“When we closed the roof…we walked off the court, got a chance to regroup a little bit. I came out a little bit real nervy. You know, first match at a slam as a top-eight seed, so a little bit nervous. Let me kind of regroup, calm down a little bit.

“I felt like with the roof closed as well, it was easier to serve because it cut out the sun, cut out the wind. How I’d serve the ball on both sides is exactly the same once the roof was closed, so it allowed me to get into a really good serve rhythm for most of the match.”

Evans felt the break came at the wrong time in his match, but still managed to win the fourth set to complete victory.

“I had won the third, I felt like he was struggling,” he said. “He was going to the towel a lot at the back of the court a lot. And then it was quite long, and then I had to start again. I didn’t feel great going back out. But then I actually played very well when I went back out.”

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