The heat at the Australian Open
One of the difficulties of the Australian Open is the changing weather conditions. Australian summer is very changeable, it can range from scorching heat to cooler evenings, rainy days with drops in temperature and/or almost unbearable humidity. In some editions, temperatures reached extreme levels, with some tennis players suffering dangerous heat stroke (let's remember Djokovic himself, who was practically forced to give up against Roddick in 2009, exhausted by too much heat). For this reason The tournament management has communicated the guidelines to protect players from extreme heat waves for the edition starting next Monday. It's not so hot in Melbourne these days, but there's always the possibility of a dramatic rise in the mercury.
“The Australian Open Extreme Heat Protocol” takes into account four environmental factors: air temperature, radiant heat (i.e. reflection from the playing field), humidity and wind. This also takes into account the extent to which a player can control the increase in body temperature and how much psychophysical stress this can cause. The sum of all these factors leads to the creation of a complex equation, controlled by the tournament's medical staff, which creates a scale from 1 to 5 (with decimal places) that leads to the following conclusions.
Outdoor matches will be suspended when the scale reaches the maximum level 5 for men's and women's singles, and for doubles; if it reaches 4.9 for junior games; 4.6 for athletes in wheelchairs. Training under these conditions is also suspended. Games in arenas with a movable roof will be suspended until the roof closes and will continue indoors. Games will resume once the index drops.
In extreme heat, the start of some games may be delayed, allowing the roof to be closed and indoor games to be played.
If the conditions are very difficult but you don't reach the top of the scale, Cooling down breaks will be introduced, i.e. breaks to give players rest and recovery: upon reaching No. 4 on the scale, in women's games, 10 minutes of rest is granted at the end of the second set, while in men the break is between the third and fourth sets. For juniors with a scale of 3.9, the break occurs at the end of the second set.
During cooling down breaks, players may remain on the field and use approved cooling measures or use designated areas to cool down and take a quick shower.