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Players at Australian Open confronted with high heatwave but rules don’t change now

Australian Open officials will review the extreme heat policy at the end of the actual tournament. A two-day heatwave has led to matches at Melbourne Park being played in soaring temperatures, which peaked on Friday at 40.2C (104F) when France’s Alizé Cornet needed treatment after lying down on the court in her defeat by Elise Mertens.

However, it’s not clear if the rules will be changed during competition. “The conditions of play are established prior to the event, and this includes the Extreme Heat Policy (EHP). We start the event with this set of rules and policies in place and, in the interest of fairness, can’t change them halfway through,” the tournament director, Craig Tiley, said. “We work closely with our medical team to ensure players are educated on best practice in terms of preparing for the conditions, and as we know many of them come to Australia early so they can acclimatize,” he added.

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The extreme heat policy which was last implemented in 2014 uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which combines air temperature and humidity. A WBGT reading of 32.5 with the temperature above 40C triggers a suspension in play but the peak on Friday was only 31.1. Players, including Alizé Cornet, believe the threshold is too high. “Playing in this condition is not nice for anyone,” she said.

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