Photo: Christopher Johnson (globalite), flickr
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—They’re dropping like flies at the Australian Open. With temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius, fans and players alike are succumbing to Mother Nature.
“I’m from Canada, and I don’t understand what’s happening,” said a confused Milos Raonic. “Back home right now, it’s below zero and we’re recovering from an ice storm. Here, I’m seeing kangaroos dancing on centre court. Did you see that?!”
With high temperatures forecast for the entire week, many are wondering whether the heat policy will be enacted. Last used in 2009, Australia is the only major international tournament to have an act in place for when the tennis courts resemble hot griddles.
“Yea, it’s hot as shit here,” conceded tournament organizer Sean Yorley. “But the referee is the one who makes the call on stoppage of play. Of course, he’s sitting under an umbrella with a mist fan and a cold drink. The guy’s practically on vacation.”
It’s summer in Australia and this season has been a hyperthermia-inducing doozy. Record-breaking highs have been set across South Australia since Christmas; bats are literally falling out of trees due to heat stress.
“We’ve actually taken to calling the ball kids – the ones who go down – bats,” said concessioner Matt Delta. “I heard they’re taking bets in the dunnie on who will crumple next. My money’s on Ivo Karlovic. You know what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” At 6’10”, Karlovic is the tallest player on the circuit.
The Open’s medical officer issued a handout with tips on how to deal with the heat, but every player seems to have their own method. Serena Williams was seen sucking on Gatorade pops, David Ferrer has a kiddie pool filled with cold water in his dressing area and Novak Djokovic is rumored to be filling his shorts with ice.
Yorley conceded that the championship may not go to the best tennis player, but may instead go to the last man standing. “Even though the thermometer went up to 43 yesterday,” he said with a shrug, “at least it’s a dry heat.”