Heat rule in play as Mercury soars

Heat rule in play as Mercury soars

TOO HOT TO HANDLE: Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes a break from the heat while playing against Marton Fucsovics of Hungary. AFP

A second day of stifling heat and humidity caused havoc at the US Open on Tuesday, prompting tournament organisers to implement special rules to provide some relief for suffering players.

With temperatures soaring well above 90 Fahrenheit (32C) amid crushing humidity, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that the 10-minute heat break the women players are granted between the second and third sets of their matches would now be extended to the men as well.

"Upon the recommendation of the US Open medical team, the Extreme Heat Policy will be implemented immediately for men's matches," the USTA said in a statement.

"The men will be offered a 10-minute break between the third and fourth set.

"The Tournament Referee, along with the medical team, will continue to monitor on-site conditions, to determine when the Extreme Heat Policy will no longer be in effect."

One fan collapsed in the stands at the sun-exposed court 17 during Petra Kvitova's win over Yanina Wickmayer, causing the chair umpire to halt play while emergency medical personnel attended.

Elsewhere fans crowded into the shady sections of the tournament's two stadiums and fanned themselves furiously while taking in the first-round action.

Organisers urged everyone attending the 50th edition of the tournament in Flushing Meadows Park to drink plenty of water and use sunscreen to protect themselves.

Yet they said they would not close the roof on either of the two stadiums due to the heat.

The new 14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium does not have an air conditioning system but relies on a first-of-its-kind natural ventilation system, which will be severely put to the test.

The roofs on Arthur Ashe stadium and Louis Armstrong stadium will likely be shut on Friday, however, as rain is forecast and expected to bring relief from the heat.

'It's a nightmare' 

For Caroline Wozniacki, it was like "drinking a margarita on a beach" but for tearful Alize Cornet it was a "nightmare" as temperatures nudged towards the 40-degree mark.

Four of eight early men's first round matches ended in retirements. Temperatures were expected to soar to 38 degrees (100 farenheit) by mid-afternoon, the effect made worse by suffocating humidity.

Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia retired at 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 3-0 down to Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

"It was 36, 37 degrees but on court it was more," said the 26-year-old who quit with cramps but admitted "the first problem was the sun".

"To have 25 seconds between points in this weather is not possible." 

French player Cornet described the conditions as a "nightmare" as she slumped to a three-set loss to Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Cornet, 28, wept as she sat courtside, telling doctors that she was ready to vomit and felt pain in her head and bones.