MELBOURNE – Marin Cilic hit out at the decision to close the roof on Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open final Sunday, saying he was not prepared for the much cooler conditions.
Organisers can only activate the tournament extreme heat policy and call matches off or shut the roof when the temperature is 40 Celsius and the wet bulb globe temperature index hits 32.5 Celsius.
When the umpire called time to commence the match, the wet bulb temperature was 32.6 and forecast to remain high.
"The tournament referee made this decision based on qualified and professional advice from the Bureau of Meteorology who are on site, and the tournament’s chief medical officer," organisers said.
It was the first time during the 2018 event it had been invoked, and Cilic was not happy.
"You know, throughout the tournament I played all my matches outdoors, also (I was) preparing for a hot day, 38 degrees," the Croatian sixth seed said after losing to Roger Federer in five tough sets.
"Then first match, for the final, to play with the roof closed, it's difficult. I have to say that decision, could it have been different? I guess so.
"I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match.
"With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected. That was very, very difficult, especially for the final to be in that kind of a situation."
Cilic clearly struggled to adjust to the air-conditioned temperatures which were a lot cooler inside than they were outside, losing the first set 6-2 before he properly acclimatised.
He said organisers did not ask him if he minded having the roof shut, but rather they told him that was how it was going to be.
"Just looking at my own side, I didn't feel those conditions before," he said.
"I had a slow start in the match, losing straightaway my two service games, then catching up most of the time."
The defeat was Cilic's second in three Grand Slam finals.
His career high so far has been his victory at the 2014 US Open where, as the 14th seed, he swept Federer in straight sets on the way to beating Kei Nishikori in the Flushing Meadows final.
But he was in tears when he gamely played on with a nasty blister on his left foot before losing last year's Wimbledon decider against the Swiss star.
Despite his gripe about the roof, he was happy overall with his tournament.
"I'm really pleased with the performance, I played great tennis over these two weeks," he said.
"I had tough matches, tough opponents, beating Rafa (Nadal), reaching here a final, which is definitely amazing.
"Looking at my own game, I think I improved a lot. I'm playing great tennis. That's really exciting for me for 2018."