2018 Australian Open to catch break from heat into the early week
After players and fans endured blistering heat at the 2018 Australian Open late last week, a welcome change to more comfortable conditions will last into the start of the week.
Cooler air has filtered back into the Melbourne area, erasing the heat that sent temperatures soaring to around 40 C (104 F) on Thursday and Friday.
More seasonable conditions are expected for the finale of the fourth round and the quarterfinals.
“Taking a look at the first couple of days of the week, beautiful conditions will reign with sunshine and afternoon high temperatures between 25 and 27 C (upper 70s to near 80 F),” AccuWeather Meteorologist Bill Deger said.
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Fans and players will want to apply sunscreen before heading to Melbourne Park.
The comfortable weather will not hold through the tournament’s conclusion with heat expected to build once again later in the week and into the final weekend of play.
Temperatures for the final weekend of play may once again near or exceed 38 C (100 F).
The recent heat prompted some players to call for the tournament to re-evaluate its extreme heat policy.
The policy goes into effect “once the ambient (surrounding temperature) exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the Wet Bulb Global Temperature reading exceeds 32.5 C (90.5 F)," the tournament's official website said.
“The decision to suspend play or close the roofs of the main courts [for the policy] is made at the referee’s discretion.”
The Wet Bulb Global Temperature (WBGT) accounts for temperature, humidity, sun angle, solar radiation and wind speed.
While temperatures soared to around 40 C (104 F) on Thursday and Friday, the WBGT did not reach the required threshold.
Tournament director Craig Tiley defended the decision not to halt play late this week to the Associated Press by saying, "we start the event with this set of rules and policies in place, and in the interest of fairness, can't change them halfway through."
Tiley added that the extreme heat policy would be reviewed after the tournament.
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