EXTREME HEAT in Melbourne halted play on day two of the Australian Open for several hours.
As temperatures rose to 35C, officials decided to suspend all play on the outside courts because it was too dangerous to hit competitive tennis balls.
A decision was taken just before 2.15pm local time – which is 3.15am GMT – and it was only until after 5pm that the matches could resume.
The tournament referee was forced to act when the Australian Open Heat Stress Index – which takes into account the strength of the sun, air temperature in the shade, relative humidity and wind speed – reached its highest level of five.
When it reached four, singles players were allowed to take a 10-minute recovery break.
For the women this point was between the second and third sets of their matches.
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For the men, they were allowed to cool down between the third and fourth sets.
Dan Evans was one of those who had to wait backstage in the locker room for the conditions to improve.
The British No.2 was 2-1 up in sets against Argentine Facundo Bagnis on Court 7 – his match started at 11am – but they both had to come off like everybody else.
During the three sets, which had taken two hours and 49 minutes, Evans used an ice pack on his head during changeovers.
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Amazingly, the Brummie, 32, refuses to wear a heat while playing in heat, mainly because he doesn’t like the way he looks with a baseball.
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The ruling did not stop Andy Murray’s first-round tie against Matteo Berrettini going ahead on time because the roof was closed on the Rod Laver Arena.
Air conditioning regulated the temperature that it was fine for the Scot and Italian to thrash it out.
Matches on the Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena were also allowed to continue as the roof was closed.
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