- Jake Michaels is a Melbourne-based sports writer who covers everything from Aussie Rules to Formula One, basketball to boxing. He has been with ESPN for 10 years and works as a Senior Writer, covering sport in Australia and around the world.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Extreme heat, followed by monsoonal rain caused significant delays during Day 2 of the Australian Open, resulting in eight matches having to be rescheduled to Wednesday.
American Sloane Stephens and eighth seed Daria Kasatkina highlight the players who will have to return on Day 3. On the men’s side of the draw, the Denis Kudla-Roman Safiullin and Richard Gasquet-Ugo Humbert matches were shifted ahead a day, ensuring no player received an unfair rest advantage ahead of the second round.
The reshuffling of the schedule also saw local Alexei Popyrin and Taipei’s Chun-Hsin Tseng shifted to the undercover stadium of John Cain Arena.
Play on all outside courts was suspended just after 2 p.m. in Melbourne with mercury hitting 37 degrees C (90 degrees F) and tournament organizers opting to enforce the extreme heat policy.
“The AO Heat Stress Scale has reached five and play will be suspended on the outside courts,” Tennis Australia released in a statement. “Play continues until the end of an even number of games or the completion of a tiebreak. Play on outdoor practice courts is also suspended.”
The Heat Stress Scale, which measures radiant heat, air temperature, wind speed and humidity, was introduced in 2019 after several players had issued complaints about a lack of consistent guidelines around competition in oppressive heat. It features stages one through five, with lower stages allowing for the implementation of cooling strategies and improved hydration while play is suspended immediately once the maximum of five is hit.
Matches were able to continue on the three main show courts of Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena, after brief delays to close roofs.
Play on the 12 outside courts only resumed around 5 p.m. once conditions had improved but it was short-lived as a sudden dip in temperature at 7:45 p.m. brought an extended downpour, further suspending the first round action at Melbourne Park, with 27 matches still to be decided.
Showers eventually eased after 90 minutes and play was set to resume before more precipitation arrived and players once again left the courts.
Tournament organizers face a scheduling nightmare but are likely to announce early Day 3 start times for the postponed matches, though there is still a threat of rain in Melbourne on Wednesday.
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