Sport in 2020 has been, not to put too fine a point on it, weird.
Australian Open organisers will review the tournament’s extreme heat policy after another day of soaring temperatures at Melbourne Park.
Frenchwoman Alize Cornet feared she would faint in conditions she labelled dangerous after organisers failed to halt play for a second straight day.
Tournament officials were widely criticised for deciding against enacting the extreme heat policy as temperatures neared 40 degrees on Thursday, with six-time champion Novak Djokovic and “dying” French star Gael Monfils among those to speak out.
On Friday, the temperature peaked at 40.2C just after 2pm, with the situation made tougher for players by hot, gusting northerly winds.
Cornet became distressed early in the second set of her third-round encounter with Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
She slumped to the court behind the baseline on Hisense Arena serving at 1-1 and was attended to by medical staff during an injury time-out after she lost the game.
Cornet recovered to play out the match but was beaten 7-5 6-4 before praising the response of the medical team.
But the former world No.11 called for the extreme heat benchmarks to be lowered.
“The limit of not playing the matches is really high … I think this limit should be a little bit lower,” Cornet told reporters.
“Playing in those conditions is not nice for anyone … for the players it’s incredibly tough.
“We’re high-level athletes capable of pushing the limits very far and sometimes too far, that’s why I say that it could be dangerous.”
The drama comes after Monfils became distressed during his second-round loss to Djokovic.
Monfils claimed he had put his health at risk by remaining on court and urged players not to feel ashamed to walk off court if they felt similarly affected.
The Australian Open’s extreme heat policy can be enacted by the tournament referee when one of two triggers are reached – when the ambient temperature reaches 40C or when the wet bulb globe temperature (a measure of heat and humidity) passes 32.5C.
Organisers defended the decision to allow play to continue, but conceded the heat policy would be reviewed at the end of the tournament.
“We all understand that to compete in these conditions is not easy,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.
“We do everything we can to help ease everyone’s discomfort in these conditions.
“At the end of every Australian Open we always review our policies and procedures and consult with all stakeholders. The EHP is no exception and we will again consult with the playing group on it.”