Melbourne – Britain's Andy Murray said Australian Open organisers were risking a tragedy after players fainted and vomited in extreme temperatures on Tuesday.
The Wimbledon champion queried whether it was safe to play in 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) heat and said the sight of players and ball boys breaking down “looks terrible for the whole sport”.
“Whether it's safe or not, I don't know. You just got to be very careful these days,” said the world number four after his first-round win against Japan's Go Soeda.
“There's been some issues in other sports with, you know, players having heart attacks. I don't know exactly why that is. Or collapsing.”
In temperatures which touched 42.4 Celsius, Canada's Frank Dancevic fainted during his match and Chinese player Peng Shuai cramped up and vomited.
And Daniel Gimeno-Traver had to come to the rescue of a ball boy who collapsed during his match with Milos Raonic. High temperatures in excess of 40 Celsius are forecast for the next three days.
“It's definitely something that you maybe have to look at a little bit,” Murray said, when asked whether he thought the conditions were safe.
“As much as it's easy to say the conditions are safe – a few people said there's doctors and stuff saying it's fine – it only takes one bad thing to happen.
“And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing. That's obviously not great.
“And I know when I went out to hit before the match, the conditions like at 2:30 pm, 3pm were very, very, very tough conditions. Anyone's going to struggle in that heat.”
He added: “In this heat, that's when you're really pushing it to your limits. You don't want to see anything bad happen to anyone.”
Tournament officials said despite the high temperatures, play went ahead because humidity remained low, reducing the risk to health. – Sapa-AFP