Wimbledon set for heat breaks

2015-07-01 05:00
People shelter from the sun under an umbrella at Wimbledon. (Tim Ireland, AP)

London - Wimbledon, long associated with depressing rain delays, will introduce emergency playing rules on Wednesday when temperatures are expected to reach the mid-30s, the highest ever for the tournament.

Organisers say a heat rule, which allows for a 10-minute break between the second and third sets of women's matches, can be used when temperatures rise above 30.1°C.

However, the rule which has been adopted by Wimbledon after lobbying from the WTA, does not apply to men even though they have to slug it out over the best of five sets.

The heat will surge to around 35°C. on Wednesday. The highest-ever temperature recorded at Wimbledon was 34°C. in 1976.

Despite the heat, All England Club chiefs said that the Centre Court roof would not be closed to preserve the tournament's integrity as an outdoor event.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal said he enjoyed the heat after comfortably reaching the second round.

"In Australia it can be much, much worse so it's no comparison but actually it's beautiful," said the Spaniard.

"When you have this weather here in Wimbledon it's probably one of the best places in the world."

Roger Federer, the seven-time champion, said he was more concerned about the effect the heat had on the thousands of spectators inside the grounds of the south-west London venue.

"I think if they make a heat rule, it's almost for everybody around us, as well," said the 33-year-old Swiss after beating Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia.

"Eventually it's not comfortable sitting eight hours in that kind of a heat for everybody. For us it's just an hour two, three, four max, I'd say."

Monday saw just over 43 000 people attend the matches.

Maria Sharapova, the highest earner in women's sport and the 2004 champion at Wimbledon, said it was wrong to describe the heat index rule being invoked only for women as sexist, but admitted the men too should be allowed the same courtesy.

"I think if it's something that they're concerned about it, they can re-evaluate," said the Russian.

"If it does get quite hot for us, we're able to use it, then why not?"

Women's world number one Serena Williams, who like Sharapova is scheduled to play on Wednesday in the second round, said the heat would not concern her as she regularly trains in temperatures of over 40°C at her Florida home.

Read more on:    wimbledon  |  maria sharapova  |  tennis

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