Serena Saved by Roof, Federer Slams Djokovic at Australian Open
by Staff | January 28th, 2009, 9:46 am
  • 48 Comments

Serena Saved by Roof at Australian Open

Australian Open officials closed the roof Wednesday in Melbourne, and closed the chances of an upset for Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 to world No. 2 Serena Williams.


The younger Williams sister was looking punch-drunk in the scorching Melbourne heat, trailing the Russian by a set when the roof was closed. Kuznetsova eventually served for the match in the second set, but the oft-choking Russian could not close it out, and Williams got stronger as the conditions got cooler. Serena upped her game to win the second set and steamroll through the third over a disparaged and angry Kuznetsova.

“Definitely it was a big change. I was very comfortable playing outside,” said Kuznetsova about the roof closure. “Yeah, definitely angry. Why should I not be? Game going my way. I’m fine playing with the roof. I think the guys yesterday, it was the same weather. Everybody was playing with the roof. Why today they had to close it? I didn’t get it.”

Williams said she dealt with the heat in her own fashion.

“It was really an out-of-body experience,” Williams told reporters. “Like I felt I was watching someone play in a blue dress, and it wasn’t me, because it was so hot out there. And I kept trying to tell myself that it’s not hot, you know. But it got hotter…I was happy because I really wasn’t playing my best today. My balls started flying.”

Williams will next face Russian Elena Dementieva, who rolled through to the semifinals Wednesday, losing only two points in jumping out to a 4-0 lead over Spanish rookie Carla Suarez Navarro, who she eventually downed 6-2, 6-2.

The telling stats included neither player serving an ace in the match, with Dementieva kicking in 10 double faults and serving just 43 percent of first serves. Suarez Navarro was 0-10 on break point chances.

“I have a lot of breakpoints, and I didn’t win any,” Suarez Navarro said. “It was difficult to won any match like this, no?”

Serena unveiled her strategy in the next round against Dementieva.

“I’m just going to have to, you know, just play my game,” Williams said.

Thursday will see both women’s semifinals in (4) Elena Dementieva vs. (2) Serena Williams, and (7) Vera Zvonareva vs. (3) Dinara Safina.

Nadal Wins, Verdasco KOs Tsonga at Aussie Open

Spaniard Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco’s confidence continued to soar Wednesday at the Australian Open, where the No. 14 seed dispatched of No. 5 seed and defending runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to gain the semifinals against countryman Rafael Nadal.

Riding a wave of confidence from winning the Davis Cup last year, Verdasco said he also received a boost from training with the conditioning coach of his idol, Andre Agassi, in Las Vegas during the off-season, set up by his sponsor adidas with former Agassi mentor Gil Reyes. Verdasco says he has watched his next opponent this week, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal — as if he needed to scout his friend at all.

“I know Rafa. I was playing with him a lot of times. We know each other for many years,” Verdasco said. “Also I was watching him playing against [Fernando] Gonzalez the other day a little bit. I was watching him play against [Tommy] Haas.”

Tsonga went through bouts of conservative play during the match, hoping the Verdasco backhand would cough up errors, but it was not to be.

“I think Fernando played better than me,” Tsonga said. “He was more aggressive. He served better than me and that’s it.”

Nadal advanced with a 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 win over a player who had beaten him in their last encounter, No. 6-seeded Spaniard Gilles Simon.

“I gave him the break every time in the first game of every set,” Simon said. “It was hard after to come back. I didn’t manage in the first set. It was better in the second and third. But finally, he was far better than me. I mean, the last time I saved so many breakpoints and everything, and this time no one. Every time I had the chance, he played better than me. He hits a winner every time. I mean, he was just too good today.”

Looking ahead, Nadal says an all-Spanish Aussie Open semifinal is a coup for his country.

“Always is good to play against another Spanish player in semifinals of Grand Slam, no?” Nadal said. “Is very good news for us. One player gonna be in the final. But Fernando is playing at his best level. I never played against him when he’s playing at the level like right now, because I think he never played at this level before, beating [Andy] Murray, beating Tsonga. Sometimes in the past he had some mistakes in important moments and he lost a little bit of concentration. But right now he’s changing these things, no?”

Nadal is 6-0 career versus Verdasco, dropping one set in that span.

Thursday will see the first semifinal of men’s play in world No. 2 Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick.

TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS

That’s 19 straight Grand Slam semifinals for Roger Federer. Five straight for Rafa…

Andy Roddick has never beaten Federer in a best-of-five match (0-6)…

Sveta Kuznetsova served for the match against Serena Williams, but we know how that turned out…

Serena Williams is 12-2 in Grand Slam semifinals…

Elena Dementieva is 15-0 on the season and has beaten Serena three straight times…

Vera Zvonareva went 6-0 in sets last year against Dinara Safina, all on hardcourts. That scary…

Fernando Verdasco is in his first career Grand Slam semifinal…

Forecast: If it was hot today, wait till Thursday when temperatures in Melbourne are forecasted to reach 114F. Look for the roof to be shut all day…

With the heat on, Hisense arena is open again…

Roger Federer has won 13 straight games…

Serena Williams won 10 of the last 11 games against Kuznetsova…

For the first time in Slam history three Russian women are in the semifinals of a Slam. A Russian will in the final Saturday night. Maybe two…

Jelena Jankovic will not be No. 1 come Monday…

Elena Dementieva has completed to Slam SF, reaching all four SFs…

For the second straight year Rafael Nadal has reached the last four at the Australian Open without losing a set…

Two Spanish lefties are in the Australian Open semifinals. That means a Spanish lefty will be in the final of the Australian Open…

Fernando Verdasco trained with Andre Agassi’s fitness guy Gil Reyes over the off season. Novak Djokovic, do you need his number?…

Verdasco also credits Andre Agassi for giving him two hours worth of advice…

STUPID PRESS QUESTION ALERT — Serena Williams, when asked if the inspiration of new U.S. president Barack Obama’s inauguration inspired her mentally in her match against Svetlana Kuznetsova: “I wish I could say that it did. I just think that the spirit is just being proud to have that moment and let that moment be a part of that. Maybe it should affect me more. But that’s totally separate. Like I feel like that’s such an amazing moment for history, especially African Americans, it’s a great life-altering moment.”…

THE OTHERWORLDLINESS OF SERENA — Serena Williams, who entered the Australian Open looking not in the best of physical shape, on why she is having difficulty reaching a high level of play in Melbourne: “I don’t know. Maybe I overtrained. I worked really hard. I was really ready.” Serena claiming she makes herself fly coach class on airlines when she loses: “Yeah, I do. I mean, gosh, prices have soared nowadays. I told you, I’m really economic. I wouldn’t necessarily want to go back 16 hours. I wouldn’t allow myself to have the emergency row either. I would be so mad, I would have to sit like the last row, the tightest row. That way I wouldn’t do it again.” Serena when asked by a reporter, “Are you mentally strong because you’re fascinated by punk rock music?”: “No. But it helps, I guess, me have a punk rock attitude. I don’t know.”…

CRAPPY PHONE PROMOTION ALERT — Sony Ericsson is having a “Party with Maria [Sharapova in Miami]” contest according to IntoMobile, a veiled attempt to unload their crappy Sony Ericsson T303 phone. Thirty lucky new buyers of the low-end phone can meet Maria in Miami — but only if you reside in France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait/Bahrain, Jordan or Egypt…

RAFTER DEBUT ON U.S. SENIOR TOUR — Pat Rafter will make his debut on the U.S. Outback Champions Series senior tour in March at Los Cabos, Mexico, during the first-year tour stop. Tour founder Jim Courier is also among the field, with other competitors to be announced.

ALL IN THE FAMILY AT CHARLESTON; PVB PLAYERS — Venus Williams has joined sister Serena in committing for the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, in addition to fellow Top 10er Vera Zvonareva. Meanwhile the MPS Group Championships, the event the week prior to Charleston that moved to Ponte Vedra Beach after 29 years at Amelia Island (formerly known as the Bausch & Lomb Championships), has yet to name any player commitments. Maria Sharapova won the Amelia Island title last year, while Serena Williams captured the Charleston chew championship…

NO HEART FOR NOVAK? — Roger Federer says Novak Djokovic is a quitter and a whuss — to paraphrase: “He’s not a guy who’s never given up before; it’s disappointing,” Federer said of Djokovic throwing in the towel in the fourth set against Andy Roddick. “I’ve only done it once in my career. Andy Roddick totally deserved to win that match…I’m almost in favor of saying, ‘You know what, if you’re not fit enough, just get out of here.’ If Novak were up two sets to love, I don’t think he would have retired 4-0 down in the fourth.” Ouch!…


Also Check Out:
Andy Murray: We Need Proper Representation at the Grand Slams
Not Ready for Prime Time: Safina Gags Aussie Open Final to Serena
ESPN Classic to Televise Agassi(s)-Henman-Clijsters Wimbledon Exo
A Look At The US Open Tennis Renovation [Video]
Serena Tops Sister Venus Williams for Wimbledon Crown

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48 Comments for Serena Saved by Roof, Federer Slams Djokovic at Australian Open

Mary Says:

It’s been years now and still nobody has sent Svetlana the “you are not pretty and you most certainly are not a ratings grabber” memo.

I’m rooting for a Roddick v. Verdasco final.


that_matt Says:

It’s amazing how many times Serena breaks serve when her opponent is serving for the match. Svetlana **choke** artist.

How about that volley Verdasco missed by a mile to give Tsonga the break in the second set? Definitely hilarious in retrospect.


jane Says:

Mary – a Roddick vs. Verdasco final would be a thrilling surprise. I wonder if Verdasco would buckle down and take out his country man and the number 1? He certainly seems all business. He played such smart tennis against Tsonga last night! Tsonga’s great but frankly Verdasco was better, he thought through the points. Sometimes I do feel that Tsonga could work a little more on that. On constructing points rather than going for flash. He’s got the talent, but sometimes it seems like he simply wants to overwhelm his opponent with it.

Verdasco was not overwhelmed. He was GREAT!

As for Roddick vs. Federer, welll I would love to see Andy get the W. It will depend, however, on which Fed shows up. I hope Roddick doesn’t defer to him too much, and really takes it to him. Fed is great, but he’s also beatable. That should be Andy’s mantra.

I agree: Svet choked serving for the match – one error after another. Credit to Serena. She held tough. And lucky for her they closed the roof so she could have an “in-body” experience the rest of the match.


anon Says:

I was in disbelief at how unfair the match was and how much favoritism was involved with Serena’s match vs. Kuznetsova. They had not closed the roof for one player before this and the conditions have been the same all along. If you are going to do it for one player – then do it for all. Obviously Kuznetsova was fit for the match. Even more unbelieveable was the fact that the hosts speaking on ESPN stated that the roof has been closed for many of Serena’s matches hence her winning in the end. WOW.


jane Says:

That said, a Fed/Nadal final would also be interesting for a number of reasons:

1. It would be their first slam final on hardcourts, so you’d have to give Federer the edge; he’s won so many h.court slams. Yet Nadal is “in his head” a bit and certainly knows/has strategies to play/beat him.

2. It would be the first time they’ve met on hardcourt in a while; I can’t remember the last time they played on hardcourt.

3. It would either tighten the number 1 race, or give Rafa more of a lead. I assume Fed can’t overtake him with a win?

4. If Rafa were to win, he’d enter into some major tennis conversations, by having won a slam on all surfaces, and by becoming a potential candidate for the “Grand Slam”.


jane Says:

“Elena Dementieva has completed to Slam SF, reaching all four SFs…” GO ELena! I’d love to see you win your first slam!


Hypnos Says:

Fed speaking truth.

A lot of comments on Sean Randall’s column were to the effect of “everyone reacts differently,” “heat stroke is serious business,” “we don’t know what was going on here.”

Hey, you’re a tennis professional. If you opponent can perform, you must be able to perform. If not, work harder. Getting sick once in a blue moon is one thing; weaseling out of multiple matches is unethical as it shows disrespect to your competitors.

(If you are about to jump down my throat: no, I’m not a professional athlete, but I am a professional in something else very competitive — same rules apply. Not that it matters — don’t attack me, attack my argument.)


bob22 Says:

Sean, you can’t hide how pleased you are with Federer’s comments on Djokovic?
But, you will never comment on Serena’s play before they close the roof. Is it because she is American? Do you have problem with Djokovic nationality? In an every single article you write there is a poison and hate towards that young person.
He has enough problems and you do not need to dance on his grave. You are bad person and there is nothing in this world that can change your character.


MMT Says:

bob22: What in the world does Sean’s perspective on Djokovic have to do with his nationality?

Give me another player, of any nationality, ranked in the top 10, that has quit in the middle of a grand slam match 4 times in his career? Anyone quit in a Davis Cup match up 2 sets to 1 in the deciding rubber? How about retiring due to a sore throat?

American networks have been falling all over themselves to promote the struggles of Serbian players over a lot of advertisty, including war and time spent away from their homeland, so why on earth would Americans be against Djokovic, just because he’s Serbian?

That man was the most popular player at the US Open in 2007, but his chest pounding antics at the AO last year, his unbelieveably annoying parents, and his unbearable vanity at the US Open in 2008 has destroyed that, and he is now suffering the consequences of all of these.

You don’t hear anything bad about Ivanovic because she displays a good character in most regards, but Jankovic not so much. Djokovic has a lot of explaining to do with his retirements, and that has nothing to do with his nationality.


lucy Says:

Go Serena the more talented player won, hence the 9 grand slam titles versus 1 edge. Why does ESPN and their commentators hype Roddick against Federer in the slams when he always loses remember Wimbledon final, US Open final, and AO Semi they’ve played in the past. In my opinion if they had closed the roof sooner this would be a Djokovic/Federer Semi.


Samprazzz Says:

Djokovic’s retirement against Roddick is the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen in tennis since Marcelos Rios quit on the court in during the Canadian Open one year.
He should have pulled a Pete Sampras: puke on the court, step up to the line and serve an ace. That’s how a professional handles himself. You’ve got to keep going. It’s not like if he continued that he was going to die.


I like tennis bullies Says:

rooting for any final other than federprissy and nadal

we dont need any more divas on the court.


that_matt Says:

The major problem is Djokovic was able to continue. He decided not to continue once he definitively knew he was going to lose.

He decided to play the 3rd set and the 4th set(until Roddick broke his serve) in the hopes he might somehow pull out a victory. Once his serve was broken in the 4th he waved the white flag. It had nothing to do with his conditioning. Apparently his conditioning let him play like a wounded dog for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sets.

Why would he do that then?

Because the possibility of him winning still existed. His health didn’t just convince him to quit after Roddick broke his serve in the 4th set.

The outcome of the match determined his retirement.

It’s so painfully obvious.


Kiwi Says:

Just goes to show you that tennis is not always about two players and everyhting else equel.

Nobody wants to see 4 Russians in the SF, esspecialy when neither of them is Sharapova, and the last one could be Kuznetsova. You can be your bottom dollar they would not have closed the roof had the situation been reversed.

Still, the fat assed “HP girl” (that was hillarious btw, not knowing the difference between an operating system and a hardware manufacturer) is not winning this year’s AO. I hope Safina can win it, she’s young so it would be a good confidence boost. Dementieva just to old for it matter anymore.

Same thing with Novak yesterday, for all his faults he had every right to retire, making him play in 60 C when there is a perfectly good roof just waiting. If he had the balls he would have done it at the end of the second set, with an ultimatium…close it or the match is over. Sad of US tennis they have to resort to such tricks in order to make SF these days, but that’s how it goes i guess. After Fed rapes him tonight he’ll be wishing he stayed in the QFs.


Ron Says:

Did no one else see the number of spectators holding-up signs, pleading with tournament organisers, “Close The Roof”??? Like it or not, it is not only unhealthy but moreover ILLOGICAL to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to the obvious for the ‘sport’ of it! Tennis aleady demands far more than ANY other professional sport as reflected by the 11 month schedule, which is undoubtably why so many of the game’s most elite players have been sidelined by injury and forced to retire…Hingis, Capriati, Henin, Seles, Pierce, etc…
Svetlana IS undeniably physically fit but tennis demands mental fitness as well..and that includes being able to adjust and adapt to changing conditions (i.e. closing the roof due to EXTREME HEAT).
Unless I’m dumb, deaf and blind, I think conditions were the same for both women on either side of the court. One COULD argue that the roof should have been closed to begin with given the weather forecasts and further, that Serena wouldn’t have had to sludge through a third set as she would have closed it out in 2.


margot Says:

Gosh Kiwi, are you going for the most insulting blog of the day? and no, I’m not American either.
Or perhaps you just like upsetting wishy washy Liberals like me who think violent words should be used for violent acts and not chucked about in tennis commentary?


Toni Says:

You Djokovic haters need to get off his case. I agree Roddick was better conditioned, but for them to close the roof yesterday and not when Djokovic played is CRIMINAL! Lets face it people, they didn’t want 4 Russian girls in the semis and saw Serena failing so they intervened. Djokovic goes from playing late games to the middle of the afternoon so that ANDY can be on TV. It’s so there in your faces that you guys are pounding your American chests like that will win you any games….


guda Says:

@Samprazzz. “…puke on the court, … That’s how a professional handles himself. You’ve got to keep going.” Are you talking about tenis or gladiator games. Let’s put some lions on the court, it would be much more interesting.
@that_matt. Damn interesting, you can read someone’s mind?


Ron Says:

Isn’t ‘American-bashing’ a bit passe already? Give it a rest and let’s talk about tennis. Certainly there are other blogs in which these ignorant postings would be welcome…this is not one of them!


Susan Says:

Closing of the roof needs to have specific rules on temperatures. In a sport with so many rules, “leaving it to someone’s discretion” doesn’t make sense. I hope all the controversy changes alot of minds quickly so it’s fair to all.

Novak, as well as any other tennis fan, knows all about the heat in Australia. Now everyone is more than aware of the number of his retirements. He brought this on himself and will have to deal with it. That may change his decisions in the future. It will be interesting to watch him handle it. I doubt he’ll be joking very much in the future.


Giner Says:

“It’s been years now and still nobody has sent Svetlana the “you are not pretty and you most certainly are not a ratings grabber” memo.”

Can I ask what this has to do with anything?

“It’s amazing how many times Serena breaks serve when her opponent is serving for the match. Svetlana **choke** artist.”

I didn’t see the match but from this article it sounded like she was handling the heat much better than Serena was, and that was why she was winning. Then they closed the roof and took away her advantage.

“anon Says:

I was in disbelief at how unfair the match was and how much favoritism was involved with Serena’s match vs. Kuznetsova. They had not closed the roof for one player before this and the conditions have been the same all along. If you are going to do it for one player – then do it for all. Obviously Kuznetsova was fit for the match. Even more unbelieveable was the fact that the hosts speaking on ESPN stated that the roof has been closed for many of Serena’s matches hence her winning in the end. WOW.”

I agree that it isn’t fair that some matches have it closed while others don’t. They should have it closed for everyone, or none at all. Dementieva and Suarez Navarro played in sweltering heat in the day, while Nadal and Simon had the roof closed and air conditioning! The air conditioning was for the spectators’ benefit, not the players, but still that made it easy. It wasn’t fair for the women.

“3. It would either tighten the number 1 race, or give Rafa more of a lead. I assume Fed can’t overtake him with a win?”

Rafa could not lose the #1 ranking here even if he lost in the first round.

“4. If Rafa were to win, he’d enter into some major tennis conversations, by having won a slam on all surfaces, and by becoming a potential candidate for the “Grand Slam”.”

It would make it impossible to criticise his hard court play anymore (his ‘weakness’). He would have won as many slams on hard courts as Novak Djokovic. And he’d be the only player to own a slam on hard, clay and grass.

“The major problem is Djokovic was able to continue. He decided not to continue once he definitively knew he was going to lose.”

Only he knows if that is true or not. I give him the benefit of the doubt. My theory is he knew before the 4th set began that he would not be winning, but tried pushing himself until it was no longer possible to move, and that happened a few games later after he was broken. That he was broken when he was expending his final ounces of energy is not hard to believe. I’m not defending him for quitting, I’m just giving him the benefit of the doubt. I believe he couldn’t continue. If you can’t play, you shouldn’t force yourself. My issue with him is why he’s so unfit in the first place.

“Nobody wants to see 4 Russians in the SF, esspecialy when neither of them is Sharapova, and the last one could be Kuznetsova. You can be your bottom dollar they would not have closed the roof had the situation been reversed.”

Thanks for speaking on behalf of all of us. Would you say the same thing if it was 4 Americans in the SF?

“Dementieva just to old for it matter anymore.”

She’s a year older than Serena. Does a year make that big a difference?

“Same thing with Novak yesterday, for all his faults he had every right to retire, making him play in 60 C when there is a perfectly good roof just waiting. If he had the balls he would have done it at the end of the second set, with an ultimatium…close it or the match is over. Sad of US tennis they have to resort to such tricks in order to make SF these days, but that’s how it goes i guess. After Fed rapes him tonight he’ll be wishing he stayed in the QFs.”

The roof closing depends on more factors than just heat. I will get into that in a later post.

“Unless I’m dumb, deaf and blind, I think conditions were the same for both women on either side of the court. One COULD argue that the roof should have been closed to begin with given the weather forecasts and further, that Serena wouldn’t have had to sludge through a third set as she would have closed it out in 2.”

Physical conditioning matters in sport. Serena would have the indoor edge, so why not close it, since the conditions will be the same for both players. I’ll answer your question with a question. Why not play the entire season on clay? I mean, sure, Nadal would win most of the titles, but the clay on his side of the court is the same clay on his opponent’s side of the court, right? The conditions are the same for both players, so it’s still a fair match right?

“You Djokovic haters need to get off his case. I agree Roddick was better conditioned, but for them to close the roof yesterday and not when Djokovic played is CRIMINAL! Lets face it people, they didn’t want 4 Russian girls in the semis and saw Serena failing so they intervened. Djokovic goes from playing late games to the middle of the afternoon so that ANDY can be on TV. It’s so there in your faces that you guys are pounding your American chests like that will win you any games….”

While I agree that the AO referees handled the roof issue poorly, I don’t agree that they did it because they wanted Serena to win. As for Novak playing at night and then back to day again, the tournament officials answered that already. They wanted to give a balance of night matches and day matches for the top players. Nadal played some night matches and day matches back to back as well, not just Novak. Federer was not getting many night matches, and Novak already played his, so it was Fed’s turn. They wanted Fed vs Del Potro at night this time.

From here on, it’s all night.


Giner Says:

Main roof should never be closed

Todd Woodbridge

January 28, 2009 12:00am

AS MELBOURNE moves into one of its most blistering heat waves in a century, the calls to shut the roof on Rod Laver Arena crescendo.

I disagree. Leave it open, live with the heat and play the game as it was meant to be played.

The only time I believe they should push the button and slide the roof across is when the bureau tells us that rain is on the way, threatening the players’ safety on the slick Plexicushion surface.

Tennis was designed to be played in summer heat. Players have been trained to handle the vagaries of the elements. The sun, the wind and the heat have been an integral part of our event since Rodney Heath won the first title in 1905.

There are two reasons that the roof has been closed: to offer some comfort and shade for the spectators, and to assist the players’ comfort.

I sympathise with the public, but the players have to be conditioned to the heat. Take Andy Murray for example. The Scot knew what to expect and spent a month in Florida preparing and acclimatising before flying Down Under.

The closing the roof turns the game on its head. Take it from me, I know only too well how it affects you.

A few years ago I was playing Nicolas Escude in a round-of-16 match on Rod Laver. The match referee called for the roof to be closed and that cost me dearly. Escude was an indoor specialist and suddenly what should have been an outdoor event flipped in his favour.

Closing the roof changes the physicality of the match. It’s an advantage to the taller stronger player who can use the perfect conditions to his advantage.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel for the players on these stinking-hot days, but to win the Australian Open you must adapt to the conditions. You must be fit enough to withstand summer and have the physical conditioning to rebound.

Watching Novak Djokovic struggle against Andy Roddick in the heat late yesterday, I felt that he was under-prepared.

Although he was in Australia early enough, perhaps too much of the time was spent on the golf course rather than the practice courts.

Djokovic’s decision to withdraw was a blow to the tournament. He was the defending champion, a proven drawcard and a player of the future.

He is one of three players in the past two days to forfeit and while heat may have been a minor factor in one case, it was not the overlying factor.

It is worth noting that the Victorian Government’s new blueprint to upgrade Melbourne Park features a roof over Margaret Court arena. This is for the spectator as much as the player.

Sometimes we think that Melbourne is one-out in the heatwave stakes, but let me tell you the US Open in New York can produce horrific conditions — muggy heat and cloying conditions with humidity to match the temperature.

And there is no roof on any of the major stadium courts at Flushing Meadows.

Wimbledon has gone for a roof on Centre Court but heat is not the factor.

And as for Paris’s Roland Garros, it is a tournament of conditioning where, very rarely, has heat been a factor.

As the surfaces are all different, so are the preparations needed for all grand slam championships.

As a traditionalist I feel strongly about this, but for the quality of the tennis and for the benefit of the fans it is probably a losing argument.


Giner Says:

Susan Says:

“Closing of the roof needs to have specific rules on temperatures. In a sport with so many rules, “leaving it to someone’s discretion” doesn’t make sense. I hope all the controversy changes alot of minds quickly so it’s fair to all.

Novak, as well as any other tennis fan, knows all about the heat in Australia. Now everyone is more than aware of the number of his retirements. He brought this on himself and will have to deal with it. That may change his decisions in the future. It will be interesting to watch him handle it. I doubt he’ll be joking very much in the future.”

I’ve found the information on how they decide when to close the roof. Here it is.

————–
EXTREME HEAT POLICY

The Australian Open uses a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to decide if play should be suspended in extreme heat.

The WBGT is a composite tempoerature used to estimate the effect of temperature, humidity and solar radiation on humans.

The pre-determined WBGT threshold is 28.

If the WGBT exceeds 28, the referee may suspend play.

When the WGBT reaches 26, ice vests are to be distributed to the courts.

When air temperatures exceed 35C (95F) and the WBGT is equal to or above 28, play will continue on Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena until the end of the set. The roof may then be closed.

On outside courts, play is suspended at the end of a set when the WBGT exceeds 28.

Junior and women players are allowed a 10-minute break at the end of the second set.

The roof will be closed only if play on outside courts has been suspended.

Source: Herald Sun
—————-

And there you have it. The criteria for deciding when the roof shuts and when it remains open. It’s more than just temperature, it’s also humidity and solar radiation. The 35C rule is for air temperature, not court temperature. The court was hot enough yesterday that an iceblock melted and vaporised completely within seconds. It isn’t purely up to the referee’s discretion.


This is sad Says:

Mary Says:

It’s been years now and still nobody has sent Svetlana the “you are not pretty and you most certainly are not a ratings grabber” memo.
————————–

So Sveta says the heat was in her favor and closing the roof was to her disadvantage, and your rebuttal to her is, “You’re ugly. Shut up.”

Wow, you win Mary.

To speculate that the AO helps players win if they are ‘ratings grabbers’ casts some pretty serious aspersions against the AO.


Giner Says:

“To speculate that the AO helps players win if they are ‘ratings grabbers’ casts some pretty serious aspersions against the AO.”

Here’s my observation.

Having followed tournaments in Australia for years and the spectators watching it (and reading their letters in newspapers), I can tell you that to the Aussie public, Serena is NOT a ratings grabber. When she was dominant, winning everything, they liked her even less. They were sick of the sisters winning everything (kind of how some people feel about Federer) and wanted to see someone new winning them.

Players that Aussies love like their own (besides Aussie players) were Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Davenport, Sharapova, and a few others. Ivanovic gets a lot of support because she has relatives in Melbourne, and Kim Clijsters is ‘Aussie Kim’ even after her split with Lleyton.

The Aussies generally are not the biggest fans of Henin and the Williams sisters. The media critcise Serena in particular quite a bit. They supported Hingis’ opponents in her last 3 AO finals more than they supported her, and I’m guessing that was because they didn’t want Hingis winning 6 AO titles in a row. Henin was unpopular because she often found herself playing Clijsters and winning.

If this was the US Open, then by all means would Serena be a ratings grabber.


ojo Says:

‘You know what, if you’re not fit enough, just get out of here. Federer the Swiss Miss
———————————————
Then you get a classy comment from the #1 player Rafa Nadal…

What do you think of Djokovic’s retirement?
RN: I don’t know well what happened. I didn’t see all the match and haven’t been able to speak to him so I prefer not to comment. It is tough though to see a player retire and it is obvious it was very hot today. Too bad but I am sure he had good reasons.


ojo Says:

MMT
How come MonFake doesn’t have any explaining to do about his retirements? Hmmm?

2006 ATP London (GBR) Grass James Blake Gael Monfils 6-1 ret.
2006 ATP Madrid (ESP) I_Hard Dominik Hrbaty Gael Monfils 3-6 2-2 ret.
2007 ATP Monte Carlo (MON) Clay Radek Stepanek Gael Monfils 6-0 2-0 ret.
2007 CH Szczecin (POL) Clay Jan Mertl Gael Monfils 6-3 2-0 ret.
2008 ATP Rome (ITA) Clay Olivier Patience Gael Monfils 6-3 1-0 ret.
2008 ATP Cincinnati (USA) Hard Tommy Haas Gael Monfils 5-1 ret.
2009 ATP Australian Open (AUS) Hard Gilles Simon Gael Monfils 6-4 2-6 6-1 ret.


Giner Says:

What the heck.. did the x-poll get hacked or something?

For some reason the 80% of x-readers now believe Novak Djokovic will finish the year ranked no.1.

How did this happen? Federer was leading by over 95% when I last checked, and Nadal was something like 3%, with 1% going to ‘who cares’.

This looks a little bit suss.

Who will finish No. 1 in 2009?

-> Rafael Nadal
0%

-> Roger Federer
9%

-> Novak Djokovic
80%

-> Andy Murray
0%

-> Someone Else
0%

-> Who Cares
11%

votes: 172370


Hypnos Says:

That’s a new ad hominem — people hating on Djokovic *must* be Roddick fans and American jingoists.

I’m not a fan of Roddick’s game, but one must admit he has always been fit, now more than ever.


margot Says:

I don’t “hate” Jokovich, hate is a strange word when applied to tennis anyway, and I do think there were some scheduling issues, an assumption that women’s matches would last two minutes and then on to the really important stuff….That clearly didn’t work out.
However, have got to say Roddick was playing under same conditions as J, and Andy Murray had been ill and was clearly not up to par but made no excuses.


Daren Says:

I agree that everyone should be treated equally but officials using the WBGT index made a decision when the reading reached a certain level. Heat injuries are serious and can kill humans easily. As fans are we going to push these athletes until someone dies? What then, feel bad about it? Officials did the right thing and they used technology to help them determine the risk level. I saw these similar stories about wbgt.

http://scientificgear.net/wordpress/category/thermal/


Joe Says:

Djokovic is a great player and the heir apparent to battle with Nadal and other top 10 players when Fed steps down. He has all of the physical skills but not the maturity and mental resolve to be No. 1, but that can change. He’s only 21. Just look at Aggasi’s career. Initially he had an arrogant game, going for winners all of the time and focusing on self promotion instead of winning. As he got older he remade and re-dedicated himself to tennis and got on a roll, winning his last GS at age 33. ATP officials need to rethink their policy for the AO and to cose or not close the roof close. All it will take is a Roger, Serena, Maria, Rafeal, to, God forbid, die from heat stroke and the sport would be devestated for years. The NFL instituted a heat illness prevention program after the unfortunate death of All Pro O-Lineman Corey Stringer at a Minnesota training camp. Wimbledon, US Open, French all stop play for rain – the AO should suspend play for heat. And the sun in New York is no where near the intensity of Melbourne. Playing in 140 degrees is ridiculous. Heat illnessis is inherently more dangerous than slipping and landing on your bum or twisting an ankle. Also, I don’t want to hear the whining from Svetlana about the roof closing. She had a 5-3 lead in the 2nd set and should have closed the match out. #14 for Federer.


redux Says:

Joe,
140 degrees Fahrenheit was apparently the temperature of the absorbing court surface, not the air around the players (and everyone else for that matter). If the air was 140 degrees, everyone outdoors would likely pass out. The male players were able to cope for the duration of their matches, with Djokovic being the exception. Not sure about Monfils.


pera Says:

SERENA ,you are not for final match in AU open,you will be lost from Azarenka,that she has not problem with temperature.So,you are lucky and nothong more.Sorry,but you are not for this time on right place.Maybe Sean Randall can say something good for your FINAL place ,becouse we can see that he is spacialist for all in tenis,and also he is righteous man.He is not on American sports side…he is quite neutral man.


MMT Says:

ojo:

I agree 100% that Monfils should be lambasted for his retirements, as they are not becoming a professional tennis player of any calibre. I think the reason Djokovic gets more attention is because 1) the proclamations of his parents that he was the new king 2) the state objectives on his part that he wants to be #1 and one of the all-time great and 3) that he’s the #3 player in the world and 4) he’s the defending champion at a grand slam.

If you’re supportive of Djokovic a disservice by comparing him to Monfils, who in my opinion, is a bit of a clown and will never accomplish anything significant in professional tennis, whereas Djokovic clearly has the tools to be #1 if he would tough out a few more results than he does.

We are left to assume that his mentality that allows a player of his calibre to retire so easily likely prevents him from fulfilling his potential – anyone who ever saw Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi yaking on court in the middle of a match, but finishing and in many cases winning, cannot possibly see Djokovic in the same category, despite his stated objectives. As a results, he gets a lot more heat than a goofball like Monfils.


addicted Says:

Federer has been pissed with Djokovic ever since he retired in the match against Federer, because he had a, get this, “sore throat”. Federer has not forgiven him for that and thinks he is just a sore loser. Wouldn’t you, if that was the excuse he gave you for quitting?


maria Says:

To ‘addited’: Before you call anyone ‘loser’ espec Djokovic, maybe you should try to play in your backyard for example, on 45 degrees without roof? He couldn’t go against his body. It would be much better if he died on tennis court, is that what you are trying to say???? Don’t be smart a..He asked for roof day earlier they rejected him.


Alex Says:

>> I’m almost in favor of saying, ‘You know what, if you’re not fit enough, just get out of here.’

It’s funny Federer should say that, when he played with mono and whined every times after he lost to a string of new-comers/veterans last year, taking half of the credit out of the winning opponents.


DuleSavic Says:

Everybody…….Djokovic made a mistake……but at the end of the year he will be #1.
He will win 2 of the remaining grand slams.

All the best to others.
P.S. I am a part time Nostradamus


DuleSavic Says:

Also I agree with Alex’s comment. The only one that has a right to talk is Nadal who never really complains that much.
But Djokovic did make a mistake…..he’ll get stronger!


DuleSavic Says:

@ Giner

I guess I am not the only one to have this type of feeling. The poll says it all.


Where is Fair Play!! Says:

It is shame to see how officials of Australian Open closed roof during Serena’s match, and obviously that brought her win, since she WAS NOT PREPARED for this tournament. It as a shame that sport is where it is; most important thing in sport is fair-play which definitely doesnt exist any more.
Why roof wasnt closed on Djokovic’s, Azarenka or Bartoli’s request.


Giner Says:

Daren Says:

“I agree that everyone should be treated equally but officials using the WBGT index made a decision when the reading reached a certain level. Heat injuries are serious and can kill humans easily. As fans are we going to push these athletes until someone dies? What then, feel bad about it? Officials did the right thing and they used technology to help them determine the risk level. I saw these similar stories about wbgt.”

I hate slippery slope arguments, but what should be done if these conditions are duplicated in the US Open where there is no roof? Wimbledon will be getting one, to address rain delays, but how do you feel about Wimbledon closing the roof when the conditions become hot and humid whereas for the last 100 years players did not have that comfort and were able to do without it? Should Paris and the US Open add roofs too just in case?

maria Says:

“To ‘addited’: Before you call anyone ‘loser’ espec Djokovic, maybe you should try to play in your backyard for example, on 45 degrees without roof? He couldn’t go against his body. ”

That’s his body’s problem, not ours, and not his opponents’.

No I couldn’t take the conditions either, but I’m not a pro player, so I’m not expected to. He is ranked 2.1 in the world and defending champ at a GS. He’s expected to perform like one.

“Everybody…….Djokovic made a mistake……but at the end of the year he will be #1.
He will win 2 of the remaining grand slams.”

Which ones?

Where is Fair Play!! Says:

“It is shame to see how officials of Australian Open closed roof during Serena’s match, and obviously that brought her win, since she WAS NOT PREPARED for this tournament. It as a shame that sport is where it is; most important thing in sport is fair-play which definitely doesnt exist any more.
Why roof wasnt closed on Djokovic’s, Azarenka or Bartoli’s request.”

A few years ago, Andre Agassi said the roof should never be closed. Players should be able to man up and take the heat or don’t bother coming. I’m going to have to agree with him there.

This was the year Sharapova was a few match points away from losing to Camille Pin in the first round. She could not take the heat, but her opponent couldn’t close her out. That was a lucky escape. Sharapova made it to the final before losing to Serena. In my opinion a player who can take the heat better than their higher ranked opponent should have that ability recognised and deserves to win.

You can say the same thing about extreme wind. Remember the semi finals at USO 04? The winds made it unplayable, and Federer almost lost.


jane Says:

The global temperatures are rising, as are the pollution indexes; has anyone seen /An Inconvenient Truth/? Therefore, I don’t think we can go by what players said in the past. New conditions call for different measures.

A football player just died from complications related to heat stroke. Wasn’t he “man” enough? Really, it does seem a bit silly. Tennis is about good strokes and talent and yes, endurance, but it shouldn’t be like “call of the wild” and who can stand the heat/wind, etc the longest. I don’t want to see wins based on that. I want to see wins based on excellent shot-making like in the Verdasco/Nadal match last night.


jane Says:

I also have never really understood those people who think it was fantastic when Sampras was carried off the court on a stretcher. Wow. I am not that sadistic. If someone is suffering or throwing up or playing with infected foot blisters – stop! It’s just a game. There are more important things than winning.

Okay I’ll get off my soapbox, but we should do more about global warming. ^^


Giner Says:

“A football player just died from complications related to heat stroke. Wasn’t he “man” enough? Really, it does seem a bit silly. Tennis is about good strokes and talent and yes, endurance, but it shouldn’t be like “call of the wild” and who can stand the heat/wind, etc the longest. I don’t want to see wins based on that. I want to see wins based on excellent shot-making like in the Verdasco/Nadal match last night.”

I understand your point and agree to an extent. The tennis is more important than the physicality. But tennis has always traditionally been played in summer heat, and I don’t see why that should change now. Global warming theory does not predict sharp rises in temperature per year, or else everyone alive decades to a century from now will get fried.

It’s about doing something today to prevent a problem from occurring in the long term. Those who don’t believe in it or don’t care know that it will affect a future generation more than it will affect them, and won’t be around when the poop hits the fan so they selfishly aren’t concerned.

As for the football player who died. Okay, that is tragic and I’m not that cold. But did anyone else on his team or the opposing team die? If not, then perhaps he wasn’t built well enough to handle the punishment after all.


No Water Down Under - SustainLane Says:

[...] on the sweltering Melbourne hard courts, before officials closed the stadium’s roof, as an “out of body” experience. “Like I felt I was watching someone play in a blue dress, and it wasn’t me, because it was so [...]


No Water Down Under - (Good.is) | Change and Switch Says:

[...] on the sweltering Melbourne hard courts, before officials closed the stadium’s roof, as an “out of body” experience. “Like I felt I was watching someone play in a blue dress, and it wasn’t me, because it was so [...]

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