The headlines today in Australia will read ‘ Players struggle in 42.2 degree heat’ they will focus on those players and officials who suffered in the heat of which there are many. The heat, 42c is something I have been fortunate never to experience, in fact I find 28c warm and struggle to play in it. So clearly I am speaking hypothetically here but if the court is warm enough to melt plastic bottles, cook ommlettes and burn peoples backsides then clearly the organisers need to look at player welfare.
On the other hand, there are many others who have trained in this heat and were able to successfully overcome it, certainly a greater proportion made it through. But in my mind the issue still remains, is 42 degrees too warm to play a professional sport? I could not play in those conditions, I would sweat so bad that I would be dehydrated in no time! Sooner rather than later a player will suffer serious health implications from playing in the heat. Consider Giles Simon for example, today he played 5 sets in his first round match in the heat of the day, he won 16-14 in the 5th after almost 5 hours of play. He has to recover in just a little over 24 hours for his next match.
From a fan point of view, the seating arrangements on court are cosy at best; I remember many a time at Wimbledon with the temperature in the low 20s but obviously the humidity a lot higher, I periodically had to pull my leg off the person beside me as they had become stuck with the sweat. 40 degree heat must be extremely difficult to enjoy sport, as leaving seats during games to cool off is a no no. The players are not able to play at their optimum level as they make the most effective movements given the circumstances.
Given the choice, I would say a majority of players would not play in these conditions. So what is the solution? Do the organizers listen to the players and put their welfare first or do they tell them to get on with it? Perhaps the tournament has been lucky thus far and the potential for serious illness, dehydration, heat stroke and burns must be huge. I for one would endorse Murrays comments of playing in such conditions is inhumane.