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  • 14 January 2014, 16:58

Australian Open: Players Collapse In Heatwave

Andy Murray is the latest tennis star to hit out at Australian Open organisers after players and ballboys fainted in 40C-plus temperatures.

The Wimbledon champion joined a growing list of players slamming organisers for forcing them to compete in the suffocating summer heat at Melbourne Park.

He said the sight of people collapsing "looks terrible for the whole sport" and officials were risking a tragedy with the mercury expected to top 40C over the next three days.

"Whether it's safe or not, I don't know. You just got to be very careful these days," he said after his first-round win against Japan's Go Soeda.

"There's been some issues in other sports with, you know, players having heart attacks. I don't know exactly why that is. Or collapsing."

The backlash became more intense after Canadian Frank Dancevic passed out for a minute during his first round match against France's Benoit Paire on the uncovered court six.

"I think it's inhumane, I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out," he told reporters afterwards.

"I've played five set matches all my life and being out there for a set and a half and passing out with heat-stroke, it's not normal. I personally don't think it's fair and I know a lot of players don't think it's fair."

The tournament's "extreme heat" measures were put into force for women's matches on Tuesday, allowing an extra 10-minute break between the second and third sets.

But under new rules this year, the decision on whether to stop matches is now down to tournament director Wayne McKewen.

Rather than using Celsius levels to assess the heat, organisers prefer to use the Wet Bulb Global Temperature composite, which also takes into account humidity and wind.

Organisers said temperatures peaked at 42.2C on Tuesday, but the relatively low level of humidity ensured play would continue.

Many players have followed Roger Federer's line that, although conditions are tough, they are the same for both players.

"It's just a mental thing," he said. "If you've trained hard enough your entire life or the last few weeks and you believe you can do it and come through it, there's no reason. If you can't deal with it, you throw in the towel."

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