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The heat is on organisers at the Australian O -

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The heat is on organisers at the Australian Open

The World Today - Wednesday, 28 January , 2009 12:54:00

Reporter: Simon Lauder

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Organisers of the Australian Open have hit back after criticism of their
scheduling in the middle of Melbourne's worst heatwave in 100 years.

The heat was too much for the defending men's champion Novak Djokovic and French player Marion
Bartoli also wilted in her quarter-final match.

Organisers say they are ready to stop play if the heat gets too much again.

One sports scientist says players should be more closely monitored and given longer breaks when the
heat is on.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: It's an exhausting game at the best of times, but this week the ability of the
world's best tennis players to keep their cool is really being tested.

The heat was too much for defending champion Novak Djokovic yesterday. Suffering from heat-cramps,
Djokovich quit his quarter-final match against Andy Roddick midway through.

He rejected suggestions he just lacked motivation.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It's easy for you to say. I mean, when you - if you come into my body, then I'll be
more than happy to hear what you think about playing.

SIMON LAUDER: The third seed also lamented the scheduling of his match in the heat of the day.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Conditions were extreme today. It did affect more on me than on him, as you can
see. But, you know, that was the situation and I just have to cope with it. It was unfortunate for
me. I did request to play a night match, but it didn't come up good for me.

SIMON LAUDER: Djokovich isn't the only player wilting in the sun. Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli also
blamed the heat and unfair scheduling for her straight sets loss to Vera Zvonareva.

MARION BARTOLI: It was quite, quite hot, I have to say. It was definitely some tough condition. I
guess it's really not the same to play - like we played today and the other match is gonna be held
at 7:30. I think it's really two different games.

SIMON LAUDER: Roger Federer has defended organisers, saying not everyone can play at night.

The tournament director of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, says the schedule is as fair as it can
be.

CRAIG TILEY: We get hundreds of requests from the players and to meet every request from all the
players is virtually impossible. And every request of Novak Djokovic's was met. There were several
players that wanted to play last night and it was Novak's turn in our rotation to play during the
day. So in fairness to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and Andy Murray and the others as well, it
was Novak's turn to play during the day.

SIMON LAUDER: The issue is not about to go away. It's predicted to be 40 degrees or higher in
Melbourne for the rest of the week. Players will be given fans and ice vests to help them cool off
on the courts, where it's sometimes 10 degrees warmer than outside.

Dr Rob Aughey from Victoria University is an expert on the effect of heat on athletes. Dr Aughey
says the heat is manageable, but players should be given more time to cool off.

ROB AUGHEY: And I would actually be advocating in these extreme conditions that they just have
longer breaks. It is quite easy to cool players - or relatively easy, I should say, to cool players
during competition. And if it was even just a 10 minute period between sets would be enough to
adequately maintain the safety of the players.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Aughey says the core temperature of athletes is monitored during AFL games, and
the same thing should be considered for tennis players.

ROB AUGHEY: It's a matter of monitoring the athletes and when we play in the heat, for example, we
monitor the core temperature of our players. You're able to do that through ingestible pills. It's
possible to actually monitor the very thing which you're trying to control in athletes. So that's
another thing I think which the organisers of the Australian Open should take into account.

SIMON LAUDER: Tournament organiser Craig Tiley says Australia's the only grand slam country with an
extreme heat policy that allows games to be halted. An on-site meteorologist advises organisers and
referees; when the temperature and the humidity get too high, play is suspended. Mr Tiley says the
players are conditioned to play in the heat and they're all prepared to do it.

CRAIG TILEY: They just, for example, came from Doha and they're off to Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well.
So, it's all part of the world swing and the world tour. And one thing that the Australian Open
does, in my opinion, better than anyone else, is actually have a policy and actually have
facilities that we can close the roof and put air conditioning on. When we do do that John, the
outside courts - everyone, when we evoke the extreme heat policy, all the matches conclude the set
that they're on, then they come off and then when the conditions improve they're able to go back
in.

SIMON LAUDER: The tournament director at the Australian Open Craig Tiley ending that report from
Simon Lauder.