With the heat at dangerous levels, the second round of the 2014 Australian Open women’s singles draw concluded with the top 4 seeds still on track for the semis…barely. Karin Knapp looked to spoil the party by upsetting 3rd seed Maria Sharapova. But in the end, Masha showed the heart that has made her a career Grand Slam winner, finally outlasting Karin, 6-3 4-6 10-8. With Li Na, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka all advancing as expected, a few third round matches have my eye. I am intrigued by the matchup of former #1 Caroline Wozniacki and rising star Garbine Muguruza. Sushine is still chasing her first Major, while Garbine is coming off a tournament victory in Hobart. Muguruza has the look of a future top 10 player, but is she ready for Wozniacki at this point in her development? I still think Sunshine will eventually be a Major champion.
The real story of the first week is the extreme heat. Temperatures of 108 F, with court surface temperatures even higher, is a danger to everybody. Fans are passing out. Ball kids are fainting. It was so hot that Frank Dancevic of Canada hallucinated seeing the cartoon character Snoopy on court before fainting.
“I was dizzy from the middle of the first set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, ‘Wow Snoopy, that’s weird.’ I couldn’t keep my balance anymore and I leaned over the fence and when I woke up people were all around me. It’s inhumane and I don’t think it’s fair to anybody when you see players pulling out of matches and passing out. It’s hazardous to be out there, it’s dangerous. Until somebody dies, they’re going to keep playing matches in this heat … and personally I don’t think it’s fair.” – Frank Dancevic
He’s right. Period. I love tennis. It’s great to see the first Major of the year. But with cooler temperatures arriving this weekend, they could have worked the schedule better and caught up in the second week. It’s not worth a tragedy. Yes, they have evoked the extreme heat policy, but even then they finish a set. If it’s so hot an extreme heat policy is needed, why finish a set? What if the set is 1-1? There’s no telling how long the set might take. Bottom line, if Maria Sharapova needs an ice collar, an ice vest and to pour bottled water on her head to stay cool, then it’s too hot to play.
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