Sunday, July 21, 2024

Heat, humidity in New York adding up to another challenge for players at US Open

The 2023 US Open has brought the heat in the most literal way. Players have been adjusting to the high temperatures along with the humidity at Flushing Meadows as the weather has become an extra challenge in the competition.

On Tuesday, New York City announced a heat advisory that is expected to be in effect until Thursday.

“One player is gonna die. And they’re gonna see,” No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev during Tuesday’s quarterfinals as he faced Andrey Rublev. 

Medvedev walked away with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory, but he admitted it was not an easy thing to achieve with the difficult conditions. The 27-year-old even got checked by a doctor and used an inhaler during the match.

“It was brutal. The only good thing I see in these conditions is both suffer, so it’s tough for both of us,” said Medvedev in his post-match interview with an ice-stuffed towel still wrapped around his neck.

“At the end of the first set, I kind of couldn’t see the ball anymore. I played with sensations and tried to go for it, tried to run and tried to catch the balls. He did the same.”

Medvedev is hardly the only player who has made a comment on the heat. The retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium was partially shut during the quarterfinal match between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 9 Taylor Fritz. 

Djokovic reportedly requested the afternoon session, and it worked out for him as the 23-time Grand Slam champion took a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over his opponent. However, it was still quite the struggle with the temperature being in the 90s and the humidity above 50 percent.

“Very humid conditions, difficult to play for both players, but that’s why we train, try to get ourselves in the best possible conditions to deliver,” Djokovic said. “Not easy, but you’ve got to fight.”

Fritz said he felt he was doing better as the match went on but admitted the humidity was draining.

“I feel it’s just really humid. It feels like it just drains you and it didn’t help that they partially closed the roof with that because I think it made it a lot less hot but a lot more humid inside the stadium,” Fritz said.

Throughout the tournament, players have been pouring water on themselves and using a lot of ice. Men have also been taking off their shirts during breaks, and Frances Tiafoe even took it a step further by taking 20 shirts to each match so he could change often and feel as fresh as possible.

“I thought it was super heavy tonight, really muggy. Super humid,” Tiafoe said after losing to Ben Shelton in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night. “I was sweating a lot. Balls were really heavy.”

While all players have felt the heat, some of them, such as Aryna Sabalenka — who is now in the semifinals and will rise to world No. 1 next week — have been preparing for the harsh conditions. 

“It was hot, but because I did my preparation in Florida — I mean, what can be worse than Florida? I mean, in July and June, you know. Not, like, overall,” Sabalenka said after getting past No. 20 seed Qinwen Zheng 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. “So I think that really helped me today to stay strong and not really get tired because of the heat.”

The 2023 Australian Open also dealt with a similar weather issue as extreme heat and rain forced delays in Melbourne in January. Fortunately for the US Open, temperatures are expected to drop to the 80s on Friday — although there could be some rain coming to Flushing Meadows.

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