Australian Open: Vomit, melting bottles and ‘frying pan’ in Melbourne
(CNN) — With plastic bottles melting on court and players vomiting during matches, the heat is on in at the Australian Open, though organizers have cut the women some slack.
As temperatures soared, China’s Peng Shuai blamed the conditions after she cramped up and was sick during her defeat to Kurumi Nara of Japan.
At one point temperatures at Melbourne Park rose to 42.2 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit), with world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka describing playing on the Rod Laver Arena court as like “dancing in a frying pan.”
It got so hot, organizers introduced the tournament’s “extreme heat” contingency plan which allows for an extended break between the second and third set for the women.
The decision on whether or not to suspend play lies with tournament director Wayne McKewen, who uses a scale which factors in temperature, humidity and wind.
“We have to reach a minimum threshold and have a forecast that it will be sustained for a reasonable time,” McKewen said in a statement.
“That didn’t happen. While conditions were hot and uncomfortable, the relatively low level of humidity ensured play would continue.”
Despite searing heat, double defending champion Azarenka kept her cool, surviving a tough first set before going on to beat Swedish world No. 91 Johnanna Larsson 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.
The Belorussian would have liked organizers to close the roof on Melbourne Park’s showpiece court to protect the players, with the blazing sun making conditions hot under foot.
“When I went out on the court I was just curious what the temperature was,” the 24-year-old, who will play Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the second round, told reporters.
“Because even though it was windy, the wind was hot. You normally expect some freshness … but it just didn’t come, from anywhere.”
Also playing in marginally favorable conditions earlier in the day, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki made light work of Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Tenth seed Wozniacki, who recently announced her engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy, needed just 67 minutes to wrap up a 6-0 6-2 win over the Spaniard, although the searing heat did take its toll on her drinks bottle.
“The first set I thought I managed to keep my head cool,” said the Dane, who advanced to a meeting with American Christina McHale.
“Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more.
“I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.
“But it was warm for both of us, and it was great that I managed to finish it off in two sets and it wasn’t too long.”
Maria Sharapova took to the court for the final match of day two, the third seed’s 6-3 6-4 victory over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands secured in cooler temperatures once the sun had set.
But fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska was made to sweat for her place in the second round.
The Pole, a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park in each of the last three years, cruised through the first set before overcoming a fight back from Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva to win 6-0 5-7 6-2.
There were no such problems for world No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, with the Serb cruising to a 6-1 6-2 victory against Japan’s Misaki Doi.